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cultural vandal | 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

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