Movie Review for Bride Wars (2009)

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Review #718 of 365
Movie Review of Bride Wars (2009) [PG] 90 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $9.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Colorado Center 9 & IMAX, Denver, CO
When Seen: 6 January 2009 @ 7:00 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: nothing
Unsung Member of the Crew: Still Photographer – Claire Folger

Directed by: Gary Winick (Charlotte's Web)
Screenplay by: Greg DePaul (Saving Silverman) • Casey Wilson ("Creature Comforts") • June Diane Raphael ("Creature Comforts") with story by Greg DePaul

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Kate Hudson (My Best Friend's Girl) • Anne Hathaway (Get Smart) • Bryan Greenberg (Nobel Son) • Chris Pratt (Wanted) • Steve Howey ("Reba") • Candice Bergen ("Boston Legal" ) • Kristen Johnston (Music and Lyrics)

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In 2008, just about this same time, fans of comedies that seem designed for women the so-called "chick-flick" were sadly disappointed by the Katherine Heigl-James Marsden flop, 27 Dresses. Therefore, it was difficult to imagine what to expect from a similar sounding film featuring a war of brides called Bride Wars and starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. Those who held their breath can exhale, for Bride Wars is far, far, far the better film for many good reasons, though, it does feature a surprisingly identical climatic point that literally seems stolen from the plot of 27 Dresses (see the spoiler for details). Instead of competing sisters, Bride Wars chooses to follow the lives of two childhood chums, Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) who vow when young to marry at the Plaza. The promise becomes more of a shallow life motivator, if you ask me, but then again, nobody ever said there wouldn't be rampant gender bias in "chick-flicks" especially those written by a man, Greg DePaul and massaged over by a team of women (June Dian Raphael and Casey Wilson), than anything else. Or so one would think until such time as the lowly school teacher Emma's long-time companion and boyfriend, Fletcher (Chris Pratt) pops the question to her on the sofa while the two are eating take-out and watching tv. It's a heart-warming romantic moment to us, but there's something about it that should have clued in Emma, ah but that's for the spoiler. Not to be upstaged completely, Liv's been working on Daniel (Steve Howey) for a long time, unfortunately, her inability to wait sabotages his proposal due to her finding the Tiffany ring box in his closet. Regardless, the two couples are now engaged, and no sooner than that they are in the clutches of Manhattan's most sought after wedding planner, Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen). Now, I'm going to insert something here for the careful reader. Honestly, I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was very, very funny, and everything that 27 Dresses wanted to be but wasn’t. Except for a few things. First, it's never quite clear how it just so happens that Emma and Liv are able to secure Marion St. Claire. Certainly, even though Emma's supposedly been saving since she was 16 for this occasion, it would be hard to imagine she could afford either Marion, a wedding at the Plaza, and so on. Liv, a successful power lawyer, on the other hand, seems more in the right league financially. Even so, one would think that the build up of Ms St. Claire would mean she only did the weddings for the ultra-elite of NYC. Along these same lines, there are a few other inconsistencies in the plot that will gnaw at you like a caged, unfed hamster on his brother, if you let it. So don't let it. Just try to enjoy the film for what it is, not what it is not.

Well, obviously, the film then relies on some major conflict created by the stupidity of Marion St. Claire and blamed on her assistant. Supposedly, the assistant mixed things up and booked both the weddings for the same day at The Plaza Hotel in June. There's no way to move the weddings. The woman whose date was mixed with theirs won't budge, and so now they are stuck. Well, too bad King Solomon wasn't there. He could have solved the problem in many different ways. Oh, and sure, you'd think two life-long friends would have just agreed to a joint wedding, right? Sure would save some cash for cash-strapped Emma. But, no, for once, Emma wants something to be just about her. Selfish? Fletcher might have noticed this too, but he's too busy dreaming of growing old with Emma on the couch. Anyway, to cut this short, a war ensues between the two over the wedding causing each of them to warn the other's wedding to "watch it's back". Wow, soon life-long friends are at each other's throats each working to out-do the other in subterfuge designed for sabotage. This is where the film kicks into gear and starts to get really funny. It's funny, of course, only in a truly macabre way though. When you think about it, these are two dear, dear friends, playing college-level pranks on each other with the intention of ruining the other's wedding. Are they really friends after all?

The trailer gives away too many of the pranks, but the ending, while semi-predictable, makes up for that. There are some enjoyably funny parts, and the two leading ladies carry the film quite well. The men, unlike so many similar films, are bit stronger, possibly because they can be with these two outrageous women opposite them. Chris Pratt has certainly matured as an actor from his days of bit parts on "Evergreen". Steve Howey is the most 'controlled' of the group finished up by Bryan Greenberg who plays Liv's brother, Nate. If I were in a mood to make some predictions, I'd say that Bryan Greenberg, having reviewed his starring role in Nobel Son not that long ago, has the potential to outshine all his cast members when their careers are summed up 20 years from now. Not only is he "fine"—according to my sister—but he's got star power potential if he just is careful about the roles he chooses. This one, for example, was not quite worthy of him, though he's vital to the ending making good sense. Director Gary Winick got the most out of his cast and story making a perfectly enjoyable way to start the new year despite the film's countless flaws. Veteran Candice Bergen, who seems not to have aged a day since her award-winning role as Murphy Brown, is spot on perfect here, though, like Greenberg, her talent's mostly under-utilized. Actually, the more I think about it, so is Anne Hathaway. Doing this film, for her, is sort of like a hiatus from her more advanced roles. Sort of like last year's Get Smart was. The danger in doing too many is that she might turn out like Kate Hudson—whom with all do respect, has now completely lost it.

Note on W.I.P. Scale™ valuation:
Each year, the W.I.P. starts over. It's hard to compare films year to year. Last year, things, in my view, got a bit over-rated due to a film that seemed really good early in the year. This caused a lot of films to be valued higher than, in retrospect, they should have. So, as much as I enjoyed Bride Wars, in this economy, and in all reality, I wouldn't pay more than $9 to see it. It was funny, sure, but it really was pretty average in the scheme of things.

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Cast Members
Kate HudsonAnne HathawayBryan Greenberg
Chris PrattSteve HoweyCandice Bergen
Kristen Johnston
Gary Winick
Greg DePaulCasey WilsonJune Diane Rephael

Review-lite Bride Wars (2009) [max of 150 words]
Fairly unoriginal, but much funnier version of 27 Dresses. With a relatively predictable ending the film's not outstanding in any way. The acting is fine. Bryan Greenberg and Candice Bergen stood out most. With all of the great movies out there to see, this film's just not that great.

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