Directed by: Gary Winick (13 Going on 30)
Starring: Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen, Bryan Greenberg, Chris Pratt, Steve Howey
There are two essential ingredients for a romantic comedy. Can you guess what they are? If you answered “romance and comedy,” then you’re apparently savvier than the folks who put together Bride Wars, which is neither romantic, nor terribly funny. It is, however, pretty terrible. The idea was probably that it wouldn’t matter that the screenplay by Greg DePaul (Saving Silverman), Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael (the latter two having no priors on their screenwriting rap sheets) had no discernible merit, because the resulting film would coast on the combined star power of Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. Well, it doesn’t.
Director Gary Winick’s desperation-soaked efforts at brightening things up don’t help. Shooting an unfunny “comic” dance lesson in fast motion may make it shorter, but it doesn’t make it funnier—and it draws attention to how lame the material is. Slathering Ed Shearmur’s (College Road Trip) telegraphic musical score over the proceedings improves nothing for the simple reason that there’s nothing there to improve in the first place. All the forced jollity in the world isn’t going to change that.
Hudson and Hathaway play lifelong best friends clinging to one shared childhood obsession: to get married at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Why they adhere so tenaciously to this idea isn’t made all that clear—except that it’s all there is to drive the plot—but it’s ultimately like watching a couple of 30-year-olds pine for Barbie’s Dream House. Naturally, they have to have fiancés in order to set the story in motion, so they have fiancés: Daniel (Steve Howey, Supercross) and Fletcher (Chris Pratt, Wanted). The actors’ credits assure me I’ve seen them before, but I have no memory of this (and you’d think it would be hard to forget the star of anything as abominable as Supercross)—nor will I have any memory of them from Bride Wars, because the characters they play exist only because they have to.
The whole show belongs to Hudson and Hathaway—and they can have it. The plot—if you’ve missed the trailer—finds that superstar wedding planner Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen, who also narrates the film as if she were reading assembly instructions for Ikea bookshelves) has allowed her inept assistant to screw up the wedding bookings, meaning both ladies will have to use the same venue on the same day. While this is possible, they can’t do it and be at each other’s weddings (the term “double wedding” occurs to no one), so they do what any respectable flea brain would do: They become mortal enemies, trying to sabotage each other’s big day. This consists of such sidesplitting moments as having Hathaway colored “blood orange” at a tanning salon (come on, she doesn’t look that much worse than Eva Longoria Parker in Over Her Dead Body) and Hudson’s hair getting dyed blue. These are the highlights—and you can see them in the trailer.
The structure—apart from an out-of-left-field twist that hardly matters since it involves the fiancés and is ultimately part of another formula anyway—is utterly predictable. You can chart every move—“Oh, this is the sorta gloomy penultimate reel” and “Ah, the music got sprightly; this must be the last reel”—and undoubtedly will. Hathaway helps. But Hudson, on the other hand, doesn’t. The film simply continues her losing streak of ill-advised career choices. As one of the producers, Hudson has only herself to blame for agreeing to the script and a hairstyle that makes her look like a cross between Hilary Duff and a shrunken head. Those who go gaga over weddings and like seeing stars humiliate themselves may feel better about it all. Rated PG for suggestive content, language and some rude behavior.