Bride Wars is a 2009 comedy about two best friends who become enemies when a scheduling error has them getting married on the same day in the same place. A massive critical failure, it somehow managed to earn big at the box office because what’s better than two beautiful women squabbling over their wedding days? Oh right. Just about anything.
The story, for what it is, is pretty simple. Lifelong best friends Emma Allen (Anne Hathaway) and Olivia ‘Liv’ Lerner (Kate Hudson) have been dreaming of a magical wedding at the Plaza Hotel since they were children because you know, girls. And good for them, they finally get their big day, yet by a clerical error, end up booked with the same date for each wedding and because they’re grown up, fully-functioning adults living and working in actual society, they talk it out and amicably come up with a proper solution. The end. No, wait. What was I thinking? This is a mainstream Hollywood movie.
Instead, long festering hostilities bubble to the surface like scolding milk boiling madly out of a pot, splattering in ugly splotches all over the room, and the two engage in an all-out war to stop the other from getting hitched. Okay, that was a terrible metaphor, but terrible is a word that most likely will come up often while attempting to describe the plot. Either way, what follows in the story of these women is an ever-increasing parade of inane gags and obvious pratfalls that sees both women doing everything they can to utterly sabotage the other before their big day. Hooray for friendship.
Directed by Gary Winick, Bride Wars is a shallow, paint-by-numbers comedy that creates a dilemma that exists only in the movies and hurdles down that narrow path with surgical precision, unloading its clichés and tropes at timely intervals with no intention of trying to be anything more than a perfunctory movie experience. These lifeless, paper thin “Brides” have no need for or interest in “Grooms” and offer nothing for the audience to root for. Neither offer any sense of depth or value and worse, the whole thing is narrated by the wonderful Candace Bergen playing the most famous wedding planner in all the land. But she might as well be reading a standard dry cleaning bill. And one only populated by gym socks.
Yet nothing is as jarring as the two leads themselves. Both Hathaway and Hudson are better than this of course, which makes it hard to understand the reasoning they came to be involved (Money? Gasp, no!). These characters are so superficially self-centered and vacuous, it feels like an aggressive attempt by a committee to purposefully set back women to Neolithic origins. And even then, I bet those women were more progressive. From beginning to end these girls have nothing redeemable about them and only becomes increasingly worse as the minutes drudge by. So let me do you all a favor and wholesale spoil the entire film. It’s really the most humane thing I could do. Here is that moment in Bride Wars. And thankfully, it’s the end of it.
The Last Straw (Hint: double meaning)
Sparing the details, for which you should probably write a lengthy letter in which you profusely thank me, the women have spent much of the film attempting to ruin the other. And I mean ruin. What starts as pranks to offset the other’s wedding plans ends up as a bitter battle on each other’s character and reputations (assuming they have those) because as evolutionary scientists will attest, being first to get married reaps far more natural benefits in sustaining one’s survivability. That’s a fact I just made up while typing the sentence.
It all began when they realized both are scheduled for marriage on the same day (in three and half months) at the Plaza. And since both refuse to change the date, that makes it impossible for them to be the bridesmaid for the other. So now you can see why they should be upset with each other. The horror I tell you. The horror.
Like adolescents fighting over the last pudding pop in a car ride to a store where they sell only pudding pops, the two spiral into an escalating war where each tries to wreck the other with sneaky pranks and devious tricks as their addle-brained fiancee’s (hey look, Chris Pratt!) look on with mild confusion, clearly wondering about what the process of finding a new agent is like.
For the women, remarkably, on the day of the ceremonies, they finally seem to come to their senses and share a moment of reconciliation, believing the worst is over, but we know better. With one more misunderstanding in communication (because how else could a Hollywood screenwriter keep their jobs?) a final prank causes one more catastrophe. And it goes like this:
After Liv (that’s Hudson) gets a touching blessing from Emma’s father right before her wedding starts (remember, they are happening at the same time), she suddenly feels bad about a video prank she has arranged to occur during Emma’s (that’s Hathaway) ceremony and tells her assistant (because, duh, who doesn’t have assistants?) to quickly replace the DVD before it’s too late. But, since he thinks they are still at war (*sigh*), he only pretends, thinking he’s actually leaving the good DVD in the player. Then the ceremony starts and the film begins, which is meant to be a lovely montage of Emma, and it is if footage of a drunk, half-naked Emma table-dancing is lovely, to which I vote, yes. Emma votes no.
She explodes and rushes from her wedding, running across the hall to Liv’s and crashes it by tackling the unsuspecting Liv right in the middle of the damn aisle. Then they wrestle. Then they make up. Then I contemplate the meaning of my existence.
Bride Wars is a terrifically bad movie experience that was once probably a good idea that someone wrote down on a piece of paper with the words “give the women heart” at the bottom except when that paper got into the hands of the studio, that last part had got smudged and now read “give the women feart,” which is a nonsense word, but not wanting to appear ignorant, ran with it. Nonsense it is. You’re welcome.