Bride Wars
dir Gary Winick
scr Greg DePaul, Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael
with Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen, Kristen Johnston, Bryan Greenberg, Steve Howey, Chris Pratt, Michael Arden, Hettienne Park, Lauren Bittner, John Pankow, Victor Slezak
release US/UK 9.Jan.09
09/US Fox 1h29
Bride Wars
BFFs: Hathaway and Hudson

bergen johnston greenberg
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Bride Wars A lively tone and sharp performances help bring this rather thin comedy to life. But it's the heavy dose of sentimentality that arrives later on that'll win over fans of the girly comedy genre.

Liv and Emma (Hudson and Hathaway) grew up together dreaming of one day having June weddings at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel. After their boyfriends (Howey and Pratt) both pop the question, their high-profile wedding organiser (Bergen) accidentally books their ceremonies at the same time. Suddenly these inseparable friends are battling for supremacy, sabotaging each others' plans and wondering how everything went so wrong.

With its fairly unconvincing premise, the high-concept script feels designed to create maximum carnage while making sure everyone is smiling and looking fabulous even through the messiest skirmishes. We only go along with it because Hudson and Hathaway are both so good at this kind of thing, maintaining a sense of regret and sadness that occasionally gives us a hint of reality. It's also great to see both playing ever so slightly against type (Hudson as a shark lawyer and Hathaway as a wild party girl). Although the characters aren't exactly consistent.

Perhaps because the whole premise centres on best buddies, the film dispenses completely with the scene-stealing pal role. Instead we get the reliable Johnston as Emma's manipulative colleague and Arden as Liv's loyal assistant standing in as maids of honour. And when the charming Greenberg turns up as Liv's sexy brother we can hear the plot machinery groan loudly as it shifts gears. Not that we mind much: this isn't a serious movie by any stretch of the imagination.

Events spiral out of control with vicious pranks and fairly ludicrous plotting and counterplotting, but there's no blackness to the humour Everything is both nasty and silly at the same time, which leaves the film feeling a bit pointless. It's also not quite as funny as it should be, although the situations keep us amused in a guilty pleasure sort of way, with some high points here and there (such as Hathaway's hysterical dance-off). That said, this is a film that really knows its audience, and fans of corny-sweet comedies will love it.

cert pg themes, some language 5.Jan.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall