After her revelatory performance in Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married, Anne Hathaway will have a much harder time getting away with pandering dreck like Bride Wars, which takes the burgeoning Anne Hathaway wedding-movie subgenre from the sublime to the despicable. An air of cynical commercial calculation hangs over the film, which witlessly explores two preeminent American obsessions: planning and executing the perfect wedding, and winning at all costs.
Producer Kate Hudson strays far outside her comfort zone of adorably ditsy doe-eyed pixies as a heavy-banged legal barracuda who has relentlessly dominated best friend/pushover Hathaway since they were little girls dreaming about the perfect wedding. When wedding-planning legend/narrator Candice Bergen accidentally schedules Hudson and Hathaway's weddings on the same day in the same hotel, their friendship quickly sours, and the desperate brides-to-be resort to increasingly brutal, implausible pranks to sabotage each other's nuptials. The mean-spirited tricks run the gamut from Hathaway replacing Hudson's normal hair dye with a blue substitute to Hathaway furtively fattening Hudson up so she won't fit into her Vera Wang wedding dress. But the stunts don't provoke laughter so much as raging contempt for the film's deplorable characters.
After 75 minutes of horrible people doing terrible things to each other for petty, spiteful reasons, the film takes a predictable turn into nauseating sentiment to deliver the expected message about the importance of friendship. It takes Hudson and Hathaway nearly the entire film to figure out what audiences will understand immediately: Their stupid game of one-upmanship is counterproductive and destructive. There may be a trenchant satire to be mined from our culture's materialism-warped wedding madness, but Bride Wars instead opts for graceless, flailing, poorly choreographed slapstick performed by characters who suggest a dumbed-down tour production of Sex And The City.