A romantic comedy that provides neither romance nor comedy, Gary Winick’s Bride Wars is what many will call a “chick flick”. Now, you can pander to an audience and get away with it, but few films outright insult their audience and live to tell their tale.
The lead characters in Bride Wars are such repellent female stereotypes – some kind of cross between Paris Hilton and a Stepford Wife – that I can’t imagine the target audience wouldn’t be offended. Maybe I’m wrong, but even then, this film fails by its own low standards.
Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson star as Emma and Liv, two women who’ve have one dream in life: to have a grand wedding at The Plaza in NYC. So the two get engaged around the same time, and of course their weddings are accidentally booked on the same day, and this starts off the titular feud, which is somewhat less engaging than Hatfield-McCoy or War of the Roses.
This is, like the worst of these movies, a film about a less-than-petty war, which involves sending an ex-friend chocolates in hopes she won’t fit in her wedding dress, and exchanging hair dye or tanning spray, and spreading pregnancy rumors, and that old standby, playing the Tijuana spring break video at the wedding ceremony. It’s this year’s What Happens in Vegas.
The events, or lack thereof, are narrated by Candice Bergen, in a thankless role as the wedding planner. There are the fiancées, yes, played by Chris Pratt and Steve Howey, but they are comically relegated to background detail. I don’t even recall a quick smooch between them and their future wives.
The ending tries to have it’s cake and eat it too: by supplying us with two weddings, the filmmakers seem to have decided they can arbitrarily present both possible outcomes. It’s shockingly unsatisfying.
Supporting cast is dull, but Hathaway and (maybe) Hudson are talented actresses: they have to work hard to get us to hate them. In Bride Wars, they’re shrill caricatures of misogynistic stereotypes, letting out a screeches of excitement with elbows to their chests and hands violently shaking in front of their faces. “I’m getting married!”
I suppose the male equivalent of a film like this is Fast and Furious, or going back further, something with a Stallone or Van Damme. But in those movies, the male characters were presented, successfully or not, as heroic action figures with strong moral codes. Icons to be revered.
Who in the world would identify with or care for or look up to the female leads in Bride Wars? The male equivalent to these stereotypes would have to be a lazy, pot-bellied, wife-beating drunkard. Which, certainly, you’ll see in some gritty cop dramas. But I await their appearance in a romantic comedy.