The romantic comedy is a type of film that relies on two obvious traits; the ability to make its audience laugh, and the ability to make that very same audience tear-up or at least feel some degree of warmth towards the central characters' love story. Bride Wars, which ostensibly at least, takes the form of your typical rom-com is an example of such that constantly tries to do the former -while constantly failing-, and only hints at the latter only in the background in order to advance plot. The result from this is a middling and sluggishly mundane feature that neither offers memorable characters or even a few cheap laughs. To be fair, there has to be something said for the fact that I am not exactly within the movie's target demographic. Yet judging by the reactions of those around me, I got the feeling that what I was experiencing wasn't exactly gender exclusive.
The story here, which revolves around two best gal-pals Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) as they try to cope with their simultaneous weddings, is one that is likely to get a few chuckles from females, but less so with their male counterparts. Yes, this is somewhat expectant of a movie titled Bride Wars, but then again, if half of your audience are neglected to the sidelines then you're needlessly cutting yourself short. This stunted, polarising depiction of "every girl's biggest day" feels fitting to its source material, so women will enjoy this moreso than men, but not by much. You see, aside from the fact that Bride Wars wants nothing more than to cater to cheap gags and sappy melodrama fit to please the Legally Blonde crowd, there also remains blatant problems in just about everything else that fills the movie's first two acts. With little romance to back up the meagre plot, dull, dry characterisation coupled with non-existent chemistry between either the friends and their partners, or even themselves, the vast majority of Bride Wars turns ugly, rather quickly; the movie pushes that this cat fight between Hudson and Hathaway is meant to be fun and airy with plenty of laughs, but it's too transparent and formulated to even move beyond dry caricature.
It doesn't help at all that the majority of the performances from the main cast are border line negligible. Hudson and Hathaway, who are supposed to playing long-time best buddies who suddenly fall out over a petty dispute, are strangely forgettable, if not repelling. In all fairness, both hit the proverbial hammer on the head with their portrayals as stock-pile, cardboard cut-out typecasts befitting of the genre and only the genre, but this isn't exactly saying much. The remainder of the cast, who each have around ten minutes tops of total screen time are just as unremarkable, with Kristen Johnston giving the movie its only real favour and edge. So, what's worse than a romantic comedy with next to no compelling or memorable performances? Not much.
To be fair however, Bride Wars isn't really a romance at all. At least, that's what I hope director Gary Winick was trying to put across (somehow I get the feeling that I'm giving too much benefit of the doubt). If anything, the movie exists more as a mildly poignant example of companionship in the form of friends rather than romance. This tangent, which takes full form in the third act, for the most part surpasses the drudgery that comes beforehand, and establishes a touching, if slightly overly done sentimental climax. By all means, it's far too little, all too late, but I at least found myself moved by the movie's final statement, even if it was by means of extreme contrast. Yet had Winick went with this theme for the majority of his film, rather than save it for after all the silly, perfunctory cat fight scenes that in turn just about destroy all human shades within his characters, Bride Wars could have been a much more flowing, and relevant feature. Instead it exists simply as throwaway popcorn fodder for girls on a night out who have nothing better to do than to revisit the same old characters, wacky situations and sit-com dialogue typical of your average Will & Grace episode.
- A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)