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Bride Wars *
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Hathaway, Hudson star as increasingly irrational brides-to-be in Gary Winick's dim-witted comedy.

BRIDE WARS
(Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)

Starring: Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Bryan Greenberg, Chris Pratt, Steve Howey, Candice Bergen. Rated PG.

It is a matter of unfortunate timing that Anne Hathaway’s latest trip to the chapel follows so closely on the heels of her Oscar-nominated turn in Rachel Getting Married. In that film, she plays a cynical, self-loathing addict released from rehab to attend her sister’s wedding, jolting her not-quite-functional family into a state of uneasy self-awareness with her caustic outpourings. It’s a devastating presentation of a damaged, damaging soul, and a far cry from Hathaway’s earlier work in saccharine fantasies like The Princess Diaries.

If anything positive can be said for Bride Wars, which finds her wading through a cesspool of infantile banality and sitcom clichés, it is that Hathaway is the movie’s greatest and only asset. She dominates the screen with ease, exuding just the sort of irrepressible energy and charm that Greg DePaul’s script so sorely lacks. But in choosing such pedestrian material, she has done a disservice to her audience and to herself. It is widely assumed that Eddie Murphy hurt his Oscar chances by following his dramatic turn in Dreamgirls with the graceless Norbit. Bride Wars is just as abysmal, though it spares us the prosthetic fat suits.

Instead, Gary Winick’s tone-deaf farce pits Hathaway against Kate Hudson (who seems appropriately uninterested) as lifelong best friends whose weddings fall on the same day. Neither cares to reschedule, and what begins as a clumsy clerical error quickly escalates into a fierce exchange of predictable pranks and mean-spirited betrayals.

What’s love got to do with it? Nothing, really. Bride Wars keeps its boys on the sidelines, where they are left to shake their heads as the women in their lives embrace their inner she-devils. (Weddings, it seems, are concessions to the fairer sex, with men on hand as glorified window dressing.) Hathaway and Hudson share the less enviable task of trying to pass off the movie’s creative desperation as inspired lunacy.

Had the filmmakers truly committed themselves to the anarchic spirit of their premise, Bride Wars might have worked as dark comedy, skewering obsessive brides-to-be with the same razor-sharp blade Danny DeVito took to disgruntled married couples in his War of the Roses. But this is anemic stuff, resolved in a flash of sentimentality too flagrantly artificial for even the most sanguine romantic.

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