Oh, For The Love Of June Sixth!  Kate Hudson as Liv and Anne Hathaway as Emma in Gary Winick's new film "Bride Wars", which opened across North America today.  (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

THE POPCORN REEL FILM REVIEW/"Bride Wars"

It's My June Sixth.  No, It's My June Sixth.  No . . . It's . . . Not . . . Let . . . Go!  I'm Gonna Fight You For It!

By Omar P.L. Moore/January 9, 2009     
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Alphabetically leading off Hollywood's 2009 movie slate: a non-classic duel at summertime's celestial sunrise -- a wedding date to fight for.  June Sixth.  (6-6).  The third "six" (maybe it's the upside-down 9 of its release date in theaters today in North America) would be this devilish horror of a movie, "Bride Wars", which chronicles the aforementioned terrible tango between two best friends from childbirth, Liv (Kate Hudson), a successful corporate attorney, and Emma (Anne Hathaway), a teacher who is a little poorer.  They are getting married to their respective sweethearts in Manhattan, and the Plaza Hotel is the place where they've always dreamed of having their matrimonial day in the sun.  Liv and Emma didn't plan this coincidence in wedding dates, mind you -- the assistant to the Big Apple's best and baddest wedding planner on the block did -- by mistake, no less.  Still, the planner extraordinaire (Candice Bergen) summarily fires her, which is something you should also do to "Bride Wars".  Fox probably wanted to cut their losses by exhibiting this one early on in what is traditionally a turkey (not Thanksgiving) month for new film releases in the U.S.

After Liv and Emma unsuccessfully try to get another prospective bride to change her wedding date, they are left for the next 90 or so minutes to duke it out for the title of Most Worthiest Bride For June Sixth.  For men who relent to being dragged to watch Gary Winick's film by their girlfriends or wives, a 95-minute catfight would presumably be entertaining (only to the extent that it involves mud wrestling -- which this one doesn't), so for many of them (at the risk of already sounding sexist) this film will be inexplicably tortuous.  While seeing Miss Hathaway swinging around on a rope at a nightclub during a bachelor party might get a man's blood to percolate a bit, nothing for men (or women for that matter) is worth the investment of your time.  At one point you don't want to shout "fire!" in a crowded theater, but instead, "why don't these two ladies just go ahead and marry each other?"  (Almost a year ago that would have been just fine in California, though unfortunately that doesn't go down too well there or many other places these days.)  That, I suppose, really would be shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

You wonder why the men to whom Liv and Emma get hitched ever decided to make the commitment in the first place -- bless their poor hearts -- especially in Liv's case.  Ms. Hudson plays Liv at one pitch and one pitch only: screechy.  The screechy white woman in a film is no less a disgrace than the screechy black woman (and in today's other film release "Not Easily Broken" there are three of them.)  At least Miss Hathaway, mired in this most unfortunate mess, shows that she can act.  After all, with her work in last year's "Rachel Getting Married" poised for potential recognition at Sunday's Golden Globe Awards (and possibly at Oscar time), Anne Hathaway is no slouch.  She makes the most of the clowning in this comedy, which has few discernable laughs to speak of.  By contrast, Ms. Hudson has apparently careened down a perilous path of no return with a series of joyless performances in poor films.  Since the confidence and sublime sweetness of her well-acted (and Oscar-nominated) character in Cameron Crowe's very good "Almost Famous" (2000), she has gone from one vacuous movie to the next, whether it was two with Matthew McConaughey ("How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days" and "Fool's Gold") or a horror movie ("The Skeleton Key") or something else.  But who's counting?  Ms. Hudson is capable of better, so why doesn't she just fire the agent that got her into this mess, and return to being the actress that we know she truly is? 

(Psst! -- Let the record show that Ms. Hudson's wedding dress is better than Miss Hathaway's.)

"Bride Wars", shoddily written by five writers including its main writer Greg De Paul (and an assist from "Saturday Night Live" personality Casey Wilson), features a cameo by John Pankow (he of the terrific 1985 film "To Live And Die In L.A.") as Emma's father.  It is good to see him -- and though he's been away from the big screen for eight years (he's mostly on television and recently on the Broadway stage), Mr. Pankow hasn't changed all that much in the 24 years since William Friedkin's crime classic.  He is one of the few bright spots in "Bride Wars", a predictable and empty film that advertises its materialism and opulence as much as its ridiculousness.  Over the last three years there have been a series of girl-glamour films including "The Devil Wears Prada" (Ms. Hathaway again), "27 Dresses", "The House Bunny", "Sex And The City: The Movie" (and next month's "Confessions Of A Shopaholic") -- these other releases were all better, even "Sex".  Mr. Winick has succeeded in directing better films like "Tadpole" (2002), a post-"Graduate" update, if you will, on "The Graduate", which starred Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Stanford.  It too was set in Manhattan and had a lot of good things going for it.  Unfortunately, Mr. Winick's new film does not.

With Chris Pratt, Bryan Greenberg, Steve Howey and Kristen Johnson.

"Bride Wars" is rated PG for suggestive content, language and rude behavior.  Engage in rude behavior and jettison this "War".  The film's running time is one hour and 35 minutes.


Related: Popcorn Hot Minute - PopcornReel.com YouTube video review of "Bride Wars"

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