‘Bride Wars’: Bride-vs.-bride comedy quickly grows tiresome

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, January 8, 2009 11:13am
  • LifeGo-See-Do

So often in movies about female friendship the male characters are so indifferently cast and written you almost suspect a conspiracy against the gender. That suspicion reaches new heights in “Bride Wars,” a tale of loyalty and rivalry.

Here, the fiances and other suitors are so bland they actually vanish while you’re looking at them. This serves a useful function: We can focus our attention entirely on the brides and their wedding preparations.

Don’t ask me the actors’ names. The two names that matter are Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, as Best Friends Forever whose affection is tested by a wedding planner’s bungle.

Both women are engaged at almost the same moment; each wants to wed at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The regal planner (Candice Bergen) messes up the dates, so one of them will have to budge, and the Plaza is booked solid for years.

This contrived situation leads to a series of back-and-forth sabotaging efforts, which at their most slapsticky have Hathaway enduring a bright-orange fake tan and Hudson dipping her blond hair in blue dye.

Given this groan-worthy concept, the real surprise is that the movie begins well. Both actresses have comic talent, and they make a contrast: golden, narrow-eyed Hudson operates in a corporate shark tank, while dark, waifish Hathaway teaches school kids.

Competitive instincts arise when their boyfriends pop the question at around the same time. In a few funny scenes, Kate Hudson sketches a useful caricature: a woman who isn’t so much desperate to get married as she is annoyed at being left in suspense.

As the comedy becomes more grinding and the one-upmanship more farfetched, the movie wears out its goodwill. Director Gary Winick (“13 Going on 30”) gives his actresses some chances for comedy, but they really don’t have great chemistry together, and they’re defeated by the plot.

Maybe it’s just the hangover from the admirable stretch she took as a depressed, vindictive addict in “Rachel Getting Married,” but Anne Hathaway looks bummed to be in this movie. Kate Hudson, who also produced the picture, acts as the cheerleader. Both deserve better.

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