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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Bride Wars (review)

War Crime

Couple things.

Guys, if you decide to let yourself get dragged along to Bride Wars because you think it means you’re gonna get lucky with the chick as a thank-you, and she likes this movie… run like hell from her. She’s poison, and she’ll make your life a misery. It’s not even worth a quickie hookup, because she’ll take your subsequent rejection as a sign that you deserve to be treated… well, certainly worse than how the BFFs of this nightmare treat each other. If she thinks it’s hilarious to be this spiteful, this vindictive, this cruel to someone one has supposed loved one’s whole life, imagine what she could do to someone she thinks has dissed her.
If the chick hates the movie, she might be a keeper. But it’s still pathetic that you’d subject yourself to this atrocity just for a chance to get laid, because her making you do something you really really don’t want to do — and I promise you, no thinking, feeling human should really really want to see this movie — is no basis for a relationship. But if you like the idea of being seen more as a loyal dog than as a man, vaya con Dios.

Ooo, except, according to this movie, women are just like we’re depicted here, so better suck it up and learn to live with it. Aren’t we adorable in all our irrational shrieking harpy juvenile shallow materialistic glory? We so are!

If Bride Wars had stuck with the fantasy — the idea that two women could book weddings at New York’s Plaza Hotel on the same day in the June that’s only three and a half months away, and not the June that’s three and a half years away, ranks up there with magic rings that make you invisible that have been hoarded by wizened hobbits in the Misty Mountains for half a millennium — it might have been forgivable. If it had stuck with the satire — the idea that brides-to-be might get into a screaming, hair-pulling, knock-down catfight in the middle of Bloomingdale’s while one of them is adding every ridiculous, overpriced household tchotchke to her wedding registry should surely be considered a brilliant lampoon of the wasteful, thoughtless, keeping-up-with-the-joneses-ness that characterizes the modern American wedding industry, not to mention the idea that whoever came up with the idea of registries completely misunderstood the concept of gifting in the first place — it could have been given a pass.

But Bride Wars doesn’t see such things as either fantasy or satire. They are a young woman’s due — nay, her right — as a modern American female. A modern American woman does not demean herself by actually, you know, talking to the man with whom she has been living for years, whom she ostensibly loves, about such things as marriage or their future together. I don’t know why she doesn’t do such a thing, but neither Anne Hathaway’s (Get Smart, Becoming Jane) meek doormat of a teacher Emma nor Kate Hudson’s (Fool’s Gold, You, Me and Dupree) sharky high-powered lawyer Liv — both of whom are clearly longishly comfortably domestic with their live-in boyfriends, Goofus and Gallant, respectively — knows that a proposal of marriage is in the offing. How do you live with someone for years, someone whom you would agree to marry instantly, and not know that he was going to propose marriage? How is that not a joint decision you talk about and make together?

Oh, because they’re girls! And a wedding — the party, that is, not the giving of yourself to a soul mate — is “the biggest day of a girl’s life.” It transcends individual personality or taste or desire or even finances, because whether a gal is a high-paid shark of a lawyer who chews up her clients, never mind her opponents, and can pay for a wedding at the Plaza out of her pocket change or a shy mild-mannered underpaid schoolteacher who’s been saving for a wedding at the Plaza since she was 16 — oh, the experiences she’s missed by hoarding all her cash for a single day! — we all want the fantasy wedding. What do you expect: we’re girls!

Except we don’t all want the same thing. Neither do we all agree that people who don’t marry “die dead,” that the men whom we love are superfluous and interchangable, or that even our “best friends” come second to our fantasy weddings. Some things are not forgiveable, and that includes pretty much everything that Hudson and Hathaway do to each other in an attempt to sabotage the other’s wedding when their nuptials are inadvertently double-booked at the same time at the Plaza. They say terrible things to each other, do terrible things to each other, and any one of them on its own would be enough to cause a true friend to reconsider the friendship, because true friends do not do such things to each other. We, the audience, are supposed to find these things amusing, because they are supposedly just barely exaggerated examples of how women will throw their “friends” overboard at the slightest provocation, how women’s “friendships” are superficial, parasitical constructs that are useful only so long as they aid our ultimate aim… which is to catch a man, a superfluous, interchangeable man who is useful only as a status symbol, a signifier that one is not so pathetic a creature as an unmarried woman.

What an appallingly bleak portrait of modern womenhood. I mean: way worse than movies of this type usually try to sell us.

So, weddings on the same day. What does that mean, exactly? They can’t be each other’s maid of honor, of course, can’t attend each other’s weddings. They could have a double wedding, except that they’re not “41-year-old twin sisters,” as Liv bitches (an excellent example of the baldfaced disdain the film has for anyone is does not want precisely what Liv and Emma want). They could both give up the Plaza, except that the venue is the most important thing about the wedding: not the celebration, not the romance, not the love it’s supposed to represent. One of them could wait three and a half years for the next opening at the Plaza… except then the wait-er would be over 30, and that would be utterly horrific (though it’s hard to see how her life would be different if she’s still living with the man she loves, and if she’s not still with this man three years later, better not to have been married to him in the first place, right?).

And this is where Bride Wars has no hope of keeping the regard — high, medium, or low — of those who know that most women are not like this, and the few who may be are not worth celebrating. After the fantasy that it doesn’t realize is fantasy and after the satire that it doesn’t realize is satire, Bride Wars wants us to feel all warm and gooey and cosy and fuzzy for the enduring friendship of Liv and Emma. It wants is to see these women not as cartoon characters or as the Two Girly Stooges but as real women.

They’re not. They’re repulsive, unpleasant bitches, and they would do well to watch their own backs against the other, because Baby Shower Wars is surely in the offing.


MPAA: rated PG for suggestive content, language and some rude behavior

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • Chris-E

    Being a guy I won’t see this movie (even if my wife wanted to see it the best I’d do is drop her off at the box office), but based on what I saw in the trailers I agree with your assessment.

    I find it odd that Hollywood continues to pump out degrading crap like this when they try to be so progressive, but I guess to make money you have to dummy down the the audience. The ironic thing is that some of the female actors that play roles such as these are far more like the characters they play than women in the real world.

    Unfortunately films like this (and shows like Bridezillas) do damage to the image men have about women and marriage. Of course that shows how dumb many men are, but still it’s not good.

  • lunarangel01

    UGH. Just ugh.

    I hate the conception that women become crazy about weddings. Of course, it doesn’t help that SOME women do.

    Personally, I’d rather get married on a beach somewhere as a wedding/honeymoon and have a small get together/reception with family and friends after the fact. Then again… I hate planning things and showing off how much money I can spend (waste) on napkins and fancy paper is just not a priority to me.

    I wouldn’t see this just for the fact that the women are so vindictive to eachother.

  • Ugh. Sounds like it’s even worse than the trailers makes it out to be, which is impressive and unfortunate. Spot on review, it’s always so nice to see I’m not the only one that feels that way about these movies. I don’t just hate them because they’re “chick flicks” but because they’re aggressively stupid and offensive to the sensibilities of any thinking person. I get so tired of being offended on behalf of women (not that the men get great treatment in these movies either), I thank you, MaryAnn, for being a woman who hates these movies too.

    How do you live with someone for years, someone whom you would agree to marry instantly, and not know that he was going to propose marriage? How is that not a joint decision you talk about and make together?

    I’ve always found this odd as well. The ideal put out there is that the more of a surprise it is, the better. And it seems to me that if it’s a total surprise UR DOIN IT RONG.

  • Cat

    Ugh, what a horrible film. I would rahter elope then put up with the crap people go through on their wedding day. I don’t want a dress I can only wear one day or to spend money I could be putting on a down payment for a house. Any man stupid enough to roll out for this, is not a man I want to date. What is the draw to this kind of thing?

  • Anne-Kari

    MAJ, you are a brave, brave woman to have sat through this crap.

    Cat, it’s funny, I wanted to get married at City Hall and have brunch in Chinatown afterward with family and friends. But my fiance (now husband) was the one who desperately wanted a big old wedding with 200 people, caterers, dj, and me in a white dress. Granted, we did it on a shoestring budget compared to every other wedding I’ve ever been to, but still – all his idea, and all his doing – he planned the whole thing. I just showed up in my gown.

    And it was great, but I cannot fathom why people go totally batshit crazy over weddings. Still I do not think this movie even remotely resembles what women are really like during wedding madness. Or at least I really, really hope their not like that.

    Anyway, we had a fantastic reception, without a doubt, and I have no regrets. But I would have been just as happy with a Justice of the Peace and some dimsum.

  • This review is total bullshit, MaryAnn. Gollum was one of the River Folk, not a hobbit. Gawd! ;)

    Oh, and I guess the stuff about the movie was hilarious… aw, who am I kidding? You rock. You’ve fallen on another grenade for us, MaryAnn — I won’t soon forget it!

  • misterb

    It’s “vaya con Dios” not via -> I think via would mean something like I should see God

  • Anne-Kari

    I broke one of my own cardinal rules – please replace ‘their’ with ‘they’re’ in my last sentence of my previous post.

  • dgrhm

    I was watching Marley and Me with my niece and nephew. The trailer for this film came on. I was embarrased for my 13 year old niece to watch that crap of a trailer. I truly hope she doesn’t think that’s how women act.

    The funny thing is while watching that trailer my 10 year old nephew and I both sighed at the stupidity of it at the same time.

    There’s hope for the future.

  • Lyna

    Pretty much how I figured the review would read, and bravo for it. Ugh. This movie looks to be one of the most offensive pieces of dreck released in some time. The fact that people wrote this, financed it, starred in it, will go to see it, will LIKE it, and that there are sadly some psychos out there who act like the “characters” in it… it’s all so damn nauseating. Count me in as another woman who hates these kinds of movies not because they’re chick flicks, but because they’re awful, stupid, and disgusting!

  • bats :[

    Somehow my husband has signed up to get notices of free movie screenings, and after being sucked into and losing four collective hours of our lives at “Night in Rodanthe,” when he told me that there was a screening for “Bride Wars,” I sweetly told him no fucking way.
    I also showed him your preliminary comments, and I think he would’ve skipped it on that alone.
    Whatever possessed Hathaway to be involved in this piece o’ crap?

  • Uh, the “River folk” were hobbits, cousins to the types of hobbits who lived in the Shire. So yes, Gollum was a type of hobbit.

    All of which is far more interesting to discuss than to sit through this movie, evidently.

  • Ken

    Whatever possessed Hathaway to be involved in this piece o’ crap?

    Probably the “do one for them, so you can do one for you” political system that exists between studios and actors.

  • JasonJ

    My wife and I agreed to get married after being together for around 5 years. We had a simple service on the shore of our lake with only a few close friends, and had our honeymoon on Maui two years later after we had saved and scrounged the money. I might watch this movie if it shows up on HBO, if I have absolutely nothing else to do, and thank all that is unholy that I married a real woman and not a vapid slash like is depicted in these movies….

  • Sarah

    Both me and one of my best friends are (planning to) get married this year. Not on the same day, but still…

    …we’re not acting like this.

  • christie

    I honestly don’t get why Anne Hathaway gets the good press she gets. She’s made plenty of horrible/stupid movies and in the decent ones, she’s merely decent (doesn’t do anything embarrass herself). I think she is one of those actresses who seem so likable, folks give her virtual get-out-of-jail-free cards all the time.

    As for Kate Hudson, why does she even have a career? She is my number one choice for WTF actress of the last decade.

    This is sounding quite bitchy, even to me, but I’m just irritated at how far we have lowered the bar on both movies and actors all the way around. I have not been this disenchanted with Hollywood in a long time. Where did the wonder go?

  • The trailers for Bride Wars and the Unborn made each movie look really horrible. It’s a sign that no one in Hollywood has any creativity that they can’t even make a bad movie look vaguely watchable by making a decent trailer.

  • MaryAnn

    Personally, I’d rather get married on a beach somewhere as a wedding/honeymoon and have a small get together/reception with family and friends after the fact.

    See! Just like a girl: always thinking about weddings! :->

    It’s “vaya con Dios” not via

    Yup, I knew that. That’s what comes from writing too fast and having to be my own proofreader: your brain fills in the things that it expects to see, not, sometimes, what’s actually there. (This is why proofreaders and copyeditors are so unappreciated: most writers don’t see their own errors, even the inadvertent ones that are the result not of our stupidity or ignorance but of brain farts, and assume our prose is perfect.)

  • Lucy Gillam

    I see commercials for this movie, and I read columns about how we don’t need more women superheroes in movies because, gosh, girls don’t like that stuff!, and I find myself looking for a convenient mountain to raise my daughter on.

  • blake

    I know of at least one guy who was dragged kicking and screaming to Bride Wars.

    There are even annoying moving posters of it on the tube.

  • stryker1121

    There must be market for these types of flicks, cuz they keep getting made. Really, who represents the target audience for these movies if they are indeed so off-base in the way they portray women? Just wondering…

  • Katie Dvorak

    That society continues to insist that the only acceptable destination for a woman or the only outcome for a long-term relationship is marriage is infuriating and rather unimaginative. Because it’s not. With the divorce rate at 51% marriage looks less important by the day and is certainly no longer necessary for women in order to survive the big bad world.

    And movies like this not only continue to perpetuate this myth but then insult the very people they’re trying to push into this box. I want to bang my head against a wall every time I see the trailer.

  • Paul

    I almost wonder if movies about weddings and war are becoming more popular because real wars and weddings are becoming less? My ex grew up in the USSR (back when it still was the USSR) and said no one went to horror movies because they wanted to escape the horror of life. On the other hand, and this is me talking, they loved intellectual movies, perhaps because intellectual life was so repressed.

    Now, in America, we have a complicated life that is hard to make sense of, so some people need to escape to mindless entertainment. We have more and more kids being born out of wedlock so have movies about weddings. Our lives are remarkably safe physically so watch movies about violence. We are being lied to on a regular basis so enjoy “snark” and sarcasm as a response to the lies.

    Just a rambling thought on why which movies appeal to which people.

  • MaryAnn

    who represents the target audience for these movies if they are indeed so off-base in the way they portray women? Just wondering…

    Good question. This movie made an ungodly amount of money this weekend. That doesn’t mean that everyone who saw it liked it, and it doesn’t mean that everyone who liked it believed it to be an accurate representation of modern womanhood.

    If this movie continues to do well, then the question may well be, Why do so many people enjoy idiocy that invites us to laugh at the very characters the same movie later wants us to feel sorry for? Do these people have no sense of continuity from one moment to another? And if they do, how do they not want to rip their brains out while watching stuff like this?

    I don’t have any answers. I’ve been asking the question for years, and I still can’t figure it out.

  • alana

    Ok, let me be the most despised poster on this board, I can take it. But I actually…wait for it…LIKED this movie. Now don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t a life-changing piece of cinematic genius, nor was it touting itself to be. What it was was light-hearted fluff, a ROM-COM for the love of G-d, so stop taking it so seriously!!!

    I saw this movie not as a symbol of the cattiness of womankind, but as a movie intended to elicit a few laughs, plain and simple. And for me, it did just that (and the guy behind me who grumbled to his gf that it was the worst peice of crap he had ever seen…well I dare say I heard him cracking up at the same parts that got me). I don’t think anyone in their right mind would think that MOST women would pull the kinds of stunts these girls did–on their supposed best friends no less. They were over-the-top as heck because that’s what gets reactions and chuckles. As for Kate and Anne, well I thought they had a charming chemistry and were enjoyable to watch onscreen. Personally, I’ve never really seen Ms. Hathaway’s comedic chops before, and I found them to be fairly impressive.

    Regarding the movie’s tremendous box office success, I certainly can’t speak for everyone who saw “Bride Wars”, but I found it to be a welcome change of pace from the onslaught of (concedely way better) oscar tear-jerkers that flood the theaters this time of year. I didn’t think I could stomach another missing child, Holocaust piece, disintegrating marriage, aging wrestler, or war drama any longer. So thank you Bride Wars for the laughs.

  • One letter to the editor in our local paper actually accused the paper’s male film critic of being a sexist because he wrote a negative review of this movie.

    Yes, it really does take all kinds…

  • MaryAnn

    light-hearted fluff, a ROM-COM

    Clearly we have different ideas about the definitions of “light-hearted,” “fluff,” “romantic,” and “comedy.”

    Honestly, what was “romantic” about this?

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