For a baseball hitter, 1-for-3 ain't too shabby; in fact, it's pretty darn good. But for an A-list Hollywood actress, one good picture out of the last three signals a bit of a slump. No cause for alarm yet, Anne Hathaway, but to paraphrase a warning from Liv (Kate Hudson), your best friend-turned-arch nemesis in the lame, inane comedy, 'Bride Wars,' your career better watch it. After an Oscar-nominated turn in 'Rachel Getting Married', you chose a copycat supernatural thriller ('Passengers') and this fluffy farce, in which you parade around in orange-tinged skin (the result of a sabotaged tanning session) and incite an infantile catfight in full bridal regalia. A few more stumbles like these, Annie, and you may find yourself on a slow boat back to Genovia awaiting a royal flogging from your 'Princess Diaries' grandmamma, Julie Andrews. Yes, you're an accomplished young actress and consistently acquit yourself well, but even your classy presence can't vanquish all the crass elements that pervade 'Bride Wars.'
Gary Winick's film isn't just a chick flick, it's a chick flick on fertility drugs, so pumped full of estrogen it makes 'Sex and the City' feel like a bro-mance. Even a noisy pig would be annoyed by all the squealing and shrieking, and though I'm clearly not the target audience for this kind of girlfriend romp, I've had enough experience with the genre to separate the wheat from the chaff. As a fan of 'Pretty Woman', 'The Devil Wears Prada', and 'Sleepless in Seattle,' I can say with authority that 'Bride Wars' is a bust of mammoth proportions. Even my wife hated it, and coming from someone who's a major fan of such matrimonial drivel as TLC's 'Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?' and 'Say Yes to the Dress' (sorry, honey, for letting your secret out), that's a stinging indictment against this dumb, vapid film.
If you've seen the trailer for 'Bride Wars' – and who hasn't? – you've seen the movie. Predictable doesn't even begin to describe this cliché-ridden tale of two wedding obsessed gal pals – one (Hathaway), a nurturing teacher; the other (Hudson), a barracuda lawyer – whose dream of a fairytale ceremony and reception at New York's Plaza Hotel becomes a nightmare when they discover a scheduling snafu has caused their respective nuptials to be booked on the same date. When neither woman will budge from her original plan, the best friends become mortal enemies, waging all-out girl-war to spoil each other's big day.
Like a text message between teenage girls, 'Bride Wars' is infused with a ton of OMG and BFF moments. Unfortunately, the script contains very few LOL one-liners, no ROFL situations, and nothing remotely resembling a side-splitting ROFLMAO moment. (Most of the time, I merely sat on my sofa rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and wondering WTF!) Sure, 'Bride Wars' is a harmless farce, the kind of guilty pleasure and girly fantasy that satisfies the bridal fanatic that lurks in almost every woman, but its biggest offense is how it continually insults audience intelligence. Both women are shallow, selfish, and plastically manufactured to fit a particular mold (believing Hudson as a high-powered attorney is perhaps the film's biggest joke), and their men are merely cardboard cut-outs for them to lean against and play off. The weak script does little more than set up the down-and-dirty faceoff between the two raging rivals, and when the over-the-top pranks (all of which lack any comic impact or shock value, thanks to the overplayed trailer) finally subside, we're left with syrupy Hallmark card platitudes that wax poetic about the binding ties of friendship. Blech!
Hudson and Hathaway try to make the best of a bad situation, but even their considerable charms – plus the added stature of an underutilized Candace Bergen – can't rescue this matrimonial misfire. 'Bride Wars' most certainly got the green light on the strength of its title, but the concept is too flimsy to hang a film on. Even as mindless escapist fare, it fails. If you like to see women duke it out, 'Bride Wars' might be a good comedic complement to Beyoncé's laughable slugfest, 'Obsessed'; if not, it might be wise to leave this silly time-waster at the altar.
'Bride Wars' arrives on Blu-ray with a fairly standard 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer that features moments of stunning dimensionality, but not enough sustained brilliance to earn it superior marks. Like most new releases, the spotless source material yields a clear, well-defined image with good color saturation, appropriately pitched contrast, and a faint grain structure that maintains the theatrical feel. Fleshtones, except when tinted a garish orange, remain accurate, and black levels enjoy nice depth.
Digital enhancements are kept to a minimum, and no noise or posterization disrupts the picture. This is one of those "nothing-to-complain-about-but-nothing-to-take-your-breath-away" transfers that should please most home viewers just fine.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track provides vibrant, full-bodied sound. There's an expansive feel to this track that really opens up the film and lends it a weight the story lacks. The rear channels are more active than I expected them to be, pumping out a fair dose of crisp ambient effects, and decent stereo separation across the front enhances aural interest. Not surprisingly, bass frequencies are weak, but the music possesses fine fidelity and seamlessly wraps around the listening arena. Dialogue is always front-and-center and easy to comprehend, and all of the girly shrieks and squeals resist distortion.
Fox wants to make sure fans of this film (if there are any) can access 'Bride Wars' anytime anywhere, so the studio has put together a mammoth three-disc set containing the Blu-ray disc, a standard DVD (for less technologically inclined girlfriends), and a digital copy disc. The extras suit the material well; there's not much of substance, but that's not really a surprise. There's no audio commentary, but if I was director Gary Winick, you couldn't drag me into a screening room to talk about this film either.
A leading candidate for inclusion on a Worst Movies of 2009 list, 'Bride Wars' will have trouble pleasing even hardcore wedding and chick flick fanatics, thanks to its uninspired script and predictable presentation. A good idea for an 'SNL' sketch but not a full-length feature, the film quickly loses steam and limps along to its saccharine conclusion. Good quality transfers and a wealth of so-so supplements dress up the disc, but can't keep us from jilting this poorly conceived comedy. Definitely one to avoid.
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