Kevin's Review: Bride Wars - Love is a Shallow Battlefield
by Kevin Powers
January 9, 2009
A wedding is usually one of the hardest passages a couple can expect to weather in a relationship. Having just gone through one myself, I can readily attest. But you don't expect that trial to hold true for best friends -- that is unless said friends plan simultaneous dream weddings at New York City's Plaza Hotel. Such is the premarital pickle confronting Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) when wedding planner extraordinaire Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen) manages to botch the bookings. While the ensuing shenanigans are fun at times, Bride Wars tries to craft meaning out of marzipan, creating a spectacle that is at best a saturated imitation, and through sugary cliché, all around bad for you.
As children, BFFs Liv and Emma come across a wedding at the famed Plaza Hotel. Instantly, the fraternal hair twins marry the idea of nuptials like that for themselves one day. Fast forward to adulthood and Liv is an effortlessly wealthy lawyer and Emma a humble elementary school teacher, each with their own uninteresting boyfriends. When Emma becomes engaged, Liv, in typical overachiever style, smells competition and corners her beau into proposing early. The two enjoy a fleeting camaraderie until it becomes clear they're both competing for the same, solitary wedding slot at the Plaza. Neither are willing to budge, and a passive aggressive battle ensues.
It's true that some of the stunts pulled in Wars are humorous at times, such as when Liv sabotages Emma's visit to the tanning salon or when a hasty wedding announcement is sent. Underlying this horsing-around, however, are some pretty ugly hues of jealously, greed and materialism. Emma has a modest job, but saves for 16 years for the perfect wedding. Liv picks up a Vera Wang dress as if she was buying socks. This isn't a movie to get excited about weddings, because the high-cost, altered reality here leaves little to relate. The grandeur of Sex and the City is one thing, but the glitz and obsessiveness for the perfect Plaza ceremony manifested in these quarreling kittens is quite another.
Often in a story like this there are crumbs of redemption and good feelings to leave the theater with, but not in Bride Wars. In the end, the pair's behavior and a particularly awkward turn at the end decimates any to-go feelings of love and friendship. So what you're left with his a shallow Jerry Springer-like spectacle that is quickly forgotten, but marginally enjoyed because of how distant it is from reality. That, and Anne Hathaway. I find trying to dislike Hathaway as difficult as trying to fail PE in school. I can't if I try, even if she is scaring husbands-to-be and putting dangerous thoughts into impressionable minds of young girls. Hating on Hudson is another story. Like her last few movies, Wars is another blimp on her growing, unimpressive resume. The movie as a whole obviously doesn't help, and neither does starring opposite Hathaway. In the battle between the two leads, Hathaway clearly comes out top. Fittingly, at one point in the film Emma says, "I'm literally running circles around." I couldn't have said it better.
Films about weddings are undoubtedly full of extravagance and a focus on "stuff", but many just manage to skirt around completely selling off all of their feeling. Bride Wars divorces itself from any emotional material, and is purely focused on material emotion. While the film strives for feeling and relevance on friendship and marriage, it ironically butchers both with its slimy methods.