The big problem with the romantic comedy Bride Wars seems as plain as the opening credits.
This movie about “the best day in a girl's life,” about two lifelong friends who have planned their “June, at The Plaza” weddings since childhood, was directed by a man. Another man came up with the story. No matter that women pitched in and tried to inject a little estrogen into the proceedings. It's still a patronizing comedy that rolls its boyish eyes at the tizzy these brides work themselves into over their big day.
Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson play the pals, Jersey girls whose lives were changed by a magical visit to New York's Plaza Hotel as children, the place to get married in the month for weddings, June.
The grown-up Liv (Hudson) is a pushy litigator used to winning and getting her own way. Emma (Hathaway) has matured into a pushover school teacher who lets everybody else impose their will on her.
They get engaged on the same day. They visit the Mother of All Wedding Planners (Candice Bergen, who also narrates) together. And that's how things get mixed up and they find themselves not sharing and helping each other make their dreams come true, but competing for wedding guests, reception DJs and everything else associated with “the day your life begins.”
Emma's “elegantly minimalist” affair runs into Liv's “trendy fusion” nuptials, so let the dirty tricks fly as each one-ups the other — the wedding “video montage” switcheroo, sabotage at the hair salon, the works. The grooms (Chris Pratt and Steve Howey) are mere bland eyewitnesses to this prize fight.
“Your wedding had better watch it,” Liv threatens in what passes for a giggle.
Both weddings are scheduled for June 6, which nobody involved was clever enough to realize is the anniversary of D-day. That's not the only joke they missed.
Director Gary Winick might have 13 Going on 30 and an Ugly Betty episode on his résumé, but he can't find the laughs in this set-up or in these two funny ladies. The supporting cast (Kristen Johnston plays a maid of honor) fares no better. The third act's sentimental moments are the only bits that work, and they come long after we've stopped caring which leading lady wears the most jet-black eyeliner.
The title, Bride Wars, promises farce, wacky catfights and that learning moment when they and we realize, “It's not about the wedding. It's about love and the life that follows.” The movie breaks those vows. It's a picture that never comes to life before the “death do us part.”