After seeing Bride Wars, it makes some measure of sense that Anne Hathaway would mount such a spirited defense of her role in it. Hathaway is, in fact, the only life that this film has. Hathaway's performance enables her to occasionally lift her character, an altruistic schoolteacher named Emma who gains strength and confidence while fighting for her dream wedding, out of the dull and uninspiring mess of the film around her. But I wouldn't recommend Bride Wars to even the most die-hard Hathaway fan. She's just another victim of this ludicrous and offensive film.
By now, I'm sure you know the plot: Hathaway and co-star Kate Hudson star as childhood friends Emma and Liv, who are waiting desparately for their boyfriends (who barely register as real characters in the film) to propose to them so that they can have their dream weddings at the Plaza in Manhattan. When they both get engaged, it's a pop music montage of lavish shopping. But when they find out they're double-booked at the Plaza, they engage in a dull and unfunny catfight: faces get turned orange, hair gets turned blue, the brides-to-be engage in a dance-off involving a male stripper, and there's a lot of jokes about Liv's weight gain. Hathaway's character might feel empowered by all this ridiculousness, but women watching it are bound to just feel insulted. Predictably enough, at the end of the filmis a message about the true meaning of friendship that does little or nothing to offset the previous hour's worth of film devoted to depicting women as selfish, shallow, zombie brides. Sadly, it's even impossible to connect with Hathaway's character - a selfless, generous woman who the filmmakers desparately want you to feel deserves this fantasy wedding - because her character is so poorly, simple-mindedly written.
Bride Wars is tedious and the characters are the worst kind of cliches. All of the supporting female characters are miserable: bitterly and unhappily single, or bitterly and unhappliy married, or bitterly and unhappily divorced. The film's narrator is a tyrannical wedding planner (played by Candice Bergen) who tells Liv and Emma, "A wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life. You have been dead until now." In a smart satire, that kind of line would be hilarious critique; in Bride Wars, it's an unfunny statement of the film's retrograde politics. And on top of all of this, the film is pretty boring, too.
Bride Wars received almost universally negative reviews over the weekend (more than a few critics have already picked it as an early contender for the worst film of 2009), although that didn't stop the film from raking in over $21 million at the box office. Yet, if there's one upside to I see to Bride Wars, it's that the film has made feminists out of film critics the world over. Take a quick glance at the Bride Wars reviews and you'll find one common thread: women, on-screen and in the audience, deserve better. We definitely do.