'Bride Wars': Jilt This One

Anne Hathaway, left, and Kate Hudson (with Steve Howey) as friends trying to spoil each other's wedding in the loathsome comedy.
Anne Hathaway, left, and Kate Hudson (with Steve Howey) as friends trying to spoil each other's wedding in the loathsome comedy. (By Claire Folger -- Twentieth Century Fox)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 9, 2009; Page C04

The synthetic chick-flick-rom-com-formulaic-retread "Bride Wars" might as well have been stamped out of a wheezing Detroit assembly line. Predictable, lazy and as overprocessed as Kate Hudson's hair, this thoroughly joyless movie also possesses a deep nasty streak, making it loathsome when it might have been merely annoying.

Hudson plays Liv, a high-powered Manhattan lawyer who with her childhood friend Emma (Anne Hathaway) has always dreamed of getting married at New York's Plaza Hotel in June.

When Liv and Emma get engaged around the same time, they schedule back-to-back Saturdays, only to discover later on that they've actually been double-booked. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for a credible inciting incident in the movie industry's endless pipeline of stale plot points. It's clear that "Bride Wars" is meant to be an epic catfight in tulle, the besties-turned-frenemies trying to spoil each other's wedding with an escalating arms race of feline pranks. ("I'll see your sabotaged fake tan and raise you a bad dye job!")

They're surrounded by a scurrying cast of supporting players, including a wedding planner who could be her own ice sculpture (played with signature sang-froid by Candice Bergen) and a bunch of meowing girlfriends who make "The Women" look like a N.O.W. meeting. (Speaking of "Bride Wars' " spiritual sisters, this is the kind of midwinter forgettable that makes viewers cast their minds back nostalgically for the golden age of wedding cinema, when movies like "Sex and the City" and "Mamma Mia!" reigned supreme. Come back, girls, all is forgiven.)

Sexist, mean-spirited and unforgivably unfunny, "Bride Wars" seems to have been manufactured chiefly as a vehicle for its two stars, who wobble through its gantlet of indignities with grim determination. It's particularly unsettling to see Hathaway, fresh from her art-house triumph in "Rachel Getting Married," reverting to type as the dewy, deer-in-the-klieg-lights ingenue. She has earned the right to retire that persona forever.

But it's Hudson who seems to have fallen most mightily here. A lovely actress who at one point seemed to have inherited her mother Goldie Hawn's gift for light-as-meringue comedy, she's relegated to Bride-Who-Ate-Manhattan in "Bride Wars," grimacing under a frowzy blond helmet and coming across as brassy, coarse and hardened. She had a promising career once, but now it looks stranded at the altar.

Bride Wars (90 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG for suggestive content, profanity and rude behavior.

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