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Bride wars
[DVD]

$4.99

It's hard to imagine a less palatable premise: Two privileged young Manhattanites morph from best friends

into bridezillas and tear each other apart over who gets to have the Best Wedding Ever.

The concept seems dated. Throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars on the perfect flowers and the perfect

dress and the perfect save-the-date announcement is so early 2008. In these recessionary times, it's not just

misogynistic to assume that intelligent women turn into feral dogs at the sight of a Tiffany gift box, but it's

also beside the point. Excessive spending is as declasse as the Bush administration.

And yet, for all its clunky moments, "Bride Wars" isn't a complete disaster. Anne Hathaway, who plays

schoolteacher Emma to Kate Hudson's power-lunching young lawyer Liv, gives a parallel performance to her turn in

"The Devil Wears Prada"; both films walk the line between glorifying and satirizing the wedding and beauty

industries, although "Prada" is the more effective of the two.

"Bride Wars" finds fertile ground to mock but spends too much time in the trenches of slapstick warfare to

deliver any really stunning takedowns. As far as broad comedy goes, though, it's no more or less silly than the

latest Will Ferrell movie and delivers enough laughs to justify its more ridiculous stunts.

The setup is that Emma and Liv, childhood best friends from New Jersey, once glimpsed a wedding at the Plaza

Hotel and then spent countless hours re-creating it in Emma's attic. The question of how that fantasy managed to

stay at the center of their lives through high school, college, graduate school and adult life in New York City

is never answered; it's the central weakness of the film, in the same way that the refusal to consider abortion

makes Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up" difficult to swallow.

As women in their late 20s, Emma and Liv have maintained their close friendship (with improbably great

wardrobes), but change is around the corner: Both have live-in boyfriends and real jobs and friends who are

getting married. The hard-charging Liv can't wait for her ring - she literally can't wait, as an accidental

discovery leads to an engagement party without an actual engagement - while the softer Emma is less maniacal,

but both are eager to jump into a new era of adulthood.

Hudson, who has inherited at least some of her mother, Goldie Hawn's, great timing, doesn't quite have the depth

of Hathaway, who has demonstrated that she can take on shallow comedic roles and intense dramatic turns with

equal aplomb, but she makes a credible Liv. With Cleopatra-like eye makeup and shiny blond hair, Hudson

certainly looks the part of a type-A achiever, ready and willing to take control of a situation. Both actresses

are fun to watch, even in the lamest moments of their fight.

Once their sugar-and-spice characters have been sketched, the plot kicks in. Emma gets a surprise proposal, and

all of a sudden, both women are marching into famous (?) wedding planner Marion St. Claire's pink office to plan

their nuptials. The shrieking and hugging come to an abrupt stop, though, when both get booked at the Plaza on

the same afternoon. One of them will have to find another venue and date. The horror!

The film is well paced, but there are a few recurring problems: One nagging annoyance is the narration by

Candice Bergen, who plays St. Claire. She delivers great, droll one-liners - stealing scenes in lowbrow comedies

seems to be her niche since she appeared as a Vogue editor in the "Sex and the City" TV show and movie - but her

halting cadence makes for cringe-worthy voice-overs. The fuzzy photo montages also need to go away.

After the fur flies - let's just say a Butter-of-the-Month club, a tanning salon and an extremely inappropriate

wedding video are involved - the finale brings home the message that friendship trumps wedding planning. The

larger issue, about the meaning of impossibly lavish and obsessively planned weddings, goes ignored, but this

film isn't trying to be a probing examination of the American female psyche.

If you came to see two pretty girls in wedding dresses wrestle, you won't be disappointed. The sequel is a no-

brainer, too: After the ideal wedding comes deluxe strollers, Baby Einstein and the sprawling industry of

perfect parenting. "Bride Wars" will beget "Baby Wars." Maybe, next time, instead of fighting each other, Emma and Liv can take on more worthy opponents.
Date Added: 07/01/2013 by Kaxeli
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