It may be only 9 days into the new year, but many critics have already reached a consensus on what will be topping the list of the worst movies of 2009.
The plot to Bride Wars is entirely summed up in the commercials: Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson play two best friends who have always dreamed of marrying their completely interchangeable husbands at the Plaza Hotel, but their weddings are accidentally double booked. Apparently, the film is even more sexist, materialistic, and unfunny than it looks in the trailer. Below, we take a look at the reviews and discover why critics fear that Bride Wars may do for Anne Hathaway's Oscar chances what Norbit did for Eddie Murphy.
Bride Wars is about as funny as a cringingly awkward wedding toast. On top of a noticeable lack of humor, it's absurdly sexist and mired in retro stereotypes. It might as well proclaim up front that all young woman care about is landing their MRS.
The problem with keeping Bride Wars cheerful is the inherent nastiness of the rivalry, which comes to involve outlandish sabotage at such locales as beauty parlors and a tanning salon. "A wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life," says a dictatorial wedding planner played by Candice Bergen. "You have been dead until now." That's not quite correct. Her two crazed clients have been relatively well-adjusted until now; it's wedding fever that nearly kills them.
At least, and this is something to be grateful for, Bride Wars deviates from the usual wedding-flick routine of maids of honor who should be the bride (or groom). And even though the catfighting goes over the top, the notion that a passionate female friendship can turn ugly in a heartbeat is, sadly, realistic.
In the end, the movie owes its mild success to Anne Hathaway, who makes it watchable ... Bride Wars is a reminder that Hathaway can be soulful and charming no matter how mundane her surroundings. She manages her appealing vulnerability with expertise, but she's also learned how to blend in just enough sexuality to put those Princess Diaries days behind her.
It should have been evident long before this unmitigated disaster went into production that none of their subsequent misbehaviour is funny. Every character is bland, hateful or self-absorbed, and sometimes all three. Kate Hudson proves yet again that Almost Famous was a solitary aberration: she cannot act. Her features have coarsened unpleasantly with age. And she is so badly made up that she looks as though she has jaundice.
But their aggression toward each other isn't their fault — they're just women, after all, empty-headed creatures naturally prone to impractical fantasies and vicious rivalries.
The opener - a gauzy scene from childhood that finds Liv and Emma, dressed as a bride and groom, tenderly dancing with each other - and an adult catfight, which looks like a prelude to a kiss, suggest that there may be more to this friendship (and the fury underlying its rupture) than either the women or the movie can admit ... It's nice to pretend that they might lead somewhere else, say to San Francisco, where once upon another time two female movie characters, inspired by Harvey Milk (or maybe just Sean Penn), will take on the gay-marriage ban and say "I do, I do" to something more than shopping.
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.
Among its other sillinesses, Bride Wars has a fear of larger-than-average rumps that extends to the dialogue and an inability to photograph Bergen below the waist. (At one point she's posed behind a chair so as not to scare the children.) This may be the first chick flick that's actively bulimic.
This movie does not like women at all. It seems to be in love with girlish things and ideas. But not actual girls. Both of the film's leads are stereotypical time bombs waiting for some occurrence to come along and give them an opportunity to finally use their ticket to take the express train to crazytown.
Imagine if Nora Ephron awoke from a dream to pencil down a half baked idea based upon having watched Rushmore just hours before and then that notepad was stolen by someone with no imagination whatsoever that wanted nothing more than to set feminism back 20 years or so. That's Bride Wars.