Directed by Gary Winick. Starring Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen, Kristen Johnston. (2009, PG, 87 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 16, 2009
We have great affection for Anne Hathaway, who has aged gracefully out of the Disney wish-fulfillment fantasies of her youth (The Princess Diaries) into a lovely and savvy young woman who's done some very good work lately (Brokeback Mountain, Rachel Getting Married). Yes, there was that recent, unfortunate tabloid business about an embezzling Italian boyfriend, but it's not like she got caught by the paparazzi flashing her bits. She's all class, that Hathaway kid – so what in good God is she doing in the slummy Bride Wars? She proved with The Devil Wears Prada that she has an eye for smart commercial fare – less so with Get Smart, but then I'd gladly guest in an Alpo commercial to get to work with Steve Carell. But one wonders what could have possibly recommended the mean-spirited, laughless Bride Wars to her. Surely not Kate Hudson, whose effect on critics (and increasingly the box office) is not unlike that of a roach motel on its six-legged guests. Actually, I suppose some credit should be given to Hudson for playing against type here; putting aside her usual squishy bunny-rabbit roles, she plays the alpha dog Liv, a Manhattan lawyer who has subtly bullied her best friend, Emma (Hathaway), for years. Both women have harbored since childhood the desire to marry at the Plaza Hotel in June, which is exactly the plan until a scheduling snafu places their two weddings on the same day. Neither woman wants to set a new date, so the situation quickly escalates from awkward fumbling to passive-aggressiveness, and then on to all-out guerrilla tactics. If you've seen the trailer, you already know the wages of war – the blue-hair sabotage, the tanning-salon incident, the wedding-aisle throwdown – and if you've seen the trailer, you've already seen Bride Wars as good as it's going to get. Which is not good. Not good at all. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to name another recent film so deeply noxious, soul-sick, and unfunny.