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Dustin Putman

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Bride Wars  (2009)
1 Star
Directed by Gary Winick.
Cast: Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Bryan Greenberg, Chris Pratt, Steve Howey, Candice Bergen, Kristen Johnston, Michael Arden, Victor Slezak, Kelly Coffield Park, John Pankow, Zoe O'Grady, Shannon Ferber, Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael, Bruce Altman.
2009 – 90 minutes
Rated: Rated PG (for suggestive content and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, January 6, 2009.
"Bride Wars" is about people you wouldn't want to know in your real life, and don't want to see onscreen. The plot they are involved in is deeply flawed and unforgivable, based around an idiotic conflict that, were the film set within an approximation of reality, could be solved in a matter of seconds. Instead, the viewer is treated like an imbecile, and the 90-minute running time is but a parade of grade school-level behavior and desperate comedy that isn't funny, only mean-spirited. Climactic ploys for saccharine, feel-good emotions are as phony as a bad spray tan.

Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are the best of friends, inseparable since childhood and sharing the same dream of one day having a June wedding at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel. When they suddenly become engaged at the same time—Liv to Daniel (Steve Howey) and Emma to Fletcher (Chris Pratt)—they promptly visit master wedding planner Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen) to see about setting their nuptial dates. Due to a scheduling conflict, however, Liv and Emma find themselves with the very same date. Getting married concurrently is out of the question, and neither is willing to budge. Soon, the two of them have become bitter enemies out to sabotage the other's plans.

Directed by the usually reliable Gary Winick (2006's "Charlotte's Web"), "Bride Wars" is as trite and unpleasant as it sounds. Watching these two bridezillas go at it, dead-set on pulling off their fairy tale wedding with barely an acknowledgment of who they are marrying, and why, is just plain ugly. Who are we supposed to care about or root for? Liv and Emma are both selfish creations, their actions speaking for themselves. Cue scenes where Liv botches Emma's tan, where Emma switches the hair dye at the salon and causes Liv to have blue locks, and where Emma crashes Liv's bachelor party and one-ups her in a snide dance-off. At no time is it considered how extra-special their weddings might be to have them together—they are best friends, after all, and even their fiancÚs are game about this easy solution—because, as Emma states over and over, ad nauseum, "I want just one day to be all about me!" Other options, like one of them having a wedding in July, say, or at a different beautiful location, aren't even considered. These two young women are pitiful, and so is the insulting screenplay by Greg DePaul (2001's "Saving Silverman"), Casey Wilson (a cast member on "Saturday Night Live"), and June Diane Raphael.

Kate Hudson (2008's "Fool's Gold"), who had better start picking her projects more wisely after a string of bombs, stars as well as receives a producing credit for the first time. Cursed with an unflattering haircut that is all bangs, Hudson's style, it turns out, is the least of her problems. She and co-star Anne Hathaway (2008's "Rachel Getting Married"), who must have been blackmailed into this part, play Liv and Emma as narrow-minded jackasses whose immaturity is staggering. As hubbies-to-be Daniel and Fletcher, Steve Howey and Chris Pratt (2008's "Wanted") are such transparent non-entities that their characters might as well be Liv's and Emma's imaginary friends. Bryan Greenberg (2005's "Prime") also shows up as Liv's even-headed brother Nate; he understandably looks confused. The only breath of fresh air in a pool of rancid muck is Kristen Johnston (2007's "Music and Lyrics"), taking every acerbic line she's given and selling it with relish as Emma's pessimistic coworker and ultimate maid of honor Deb.

Save for Kristen Johnston's occasional barbs, "Bride Wars" is so unfunny that the viewer has to question whether or not any of it was supposed to be humorous. It was, and it's not. The conclusion that director Gary Winick finally locates is predictable and unconvincing, with numerous heart-to-heart sessions set before wedding guests, one relationship breaking up for no reason other than because the script demands it, and an epilogue more cloying and manufactured than one could scarcely imagine. "Bride Wars" is being released early in January, typically a stomping ground for bad movies. In this way, it has been perfectly placed.
© 2009 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman