'Bride Wars'


June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Europe by Allied Forces in 1944. Fox's comedy "Bride Wars" would have you believe two female best friends would go to war with a ferocity equal to the Normandy landing when their wedding dates both fall on June 6 at New York's Plaza Hotel.

Unfortunately, the skirmishes between the combatants — played with more energy than believability by Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson — never rise to the level of truly outrageous, nor are any of the schemes the least bit funny.

Having two glamorous leads might stir female interest, which could bring midlevel business. After a couple of weeks, though, "Bride Wars" will be heading for divorce court.

By means of a clerical error, which lacks credibility because it comes from the office of the supposed queen of wedding planners, Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen), two lifelong friends find themselves with the same wedding date and destination. Liv (Hudson) is a determined litigator who is used to getting her way. Emma (Hathaway) is an overly nice schoolteacher determined, for once, to have her wedding be "about me."

The movie, scripted by Greg DePaul and Casey Wilson & June Diane Raphael, dives right into the mischief with misplaced glee given the lameness of the conspiracies. Liv sneaks into a tanning salon to make certain her rival comes out with orange skin; Emma sneaks into a hair salon to make certain her rival comes out with blue hair. And so it goes.

What the script doesn't do is dive deep enough into the women's characters to lay the foundation for these sneak attacks. Ditto that in spades for the poor fiances, who are reduced to dress extras at the weddings. Why anyone's in love, or why there's desperation to get married right now, is never clear.

Director Gary Winick fails to establish a rhythm to the comic mayhem. Situations don't really build; they just happen. And he directs his actresses to play the same level of frustration and rage. These are two very different women, so let them be different.

There probably was a smart comedy here about rival nuptials. Lord knows, Hollywood has made enough movies about weddings that, clearly, everything about the madness leading up to such D-Days has the makings of fun. But "Bride Wars" never gets off its high-concept stool long enough to explore what makes weddings so exciting and nerve-racking and treacherous. It flounders instead in juvenilia and bitchiness.

Hathaway comes off best, if only because nothing in the script makes Hudson's character the least bit sympathetic. The two manage to suggest a strong female bond, enough so as to undermine the movie's basic premise. Bergen tackles the wedding planner as an interesting combination of Park Avenue matron and drill sergeant.

Kristen Johnston plays an alcohol-fueled maid of honor that might have been amusing if it weren't so one-note. Bryan Greenberg as Liv's fiance, Chris Pratt as Emma's and Steve Howey as Liv's conspicuously eligible bachelor brother struggle to differentiate themselves from that tuxedoed figure atop the wedding cake. (partialdiff)