Anne Hathaway loves weddings. Well, one might surmise as much from her recent trio of rsvps—Rachel Getting Married, Bride Wars, and the forthcoming The Fiancé. I don't know what the last movie will bring to the mix, but the first two are almost opposite from one another. Whereas Rachel featured three-dimensional characters and lively, buzzing tension, Bride Wars offers characterizations in place of characters and a resolution that comes wrapped with a big bow on top and a gift receipt tucked inside.

Kate Hudson as Liv, Anne Hathaway as Emma

Kate Hudson as Liv, Anne Hathaway as Emma

Whether one will want to use that gift receipt will depend entirely on what one is hoping to unwrap. For all its predictability, Bride Wars is a well-paced chick flick that trades heavily in two great romantic ideals many women harbor—a fancy wedding day and a best friend. It's pleasant, almost heartwarming at moments, despite being entirely implausible.

Bride Wars stars Hathaway as Emma and Kate Hudson as Liv, two best friends who grow up dreaming together about having June weddings at the famed Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Liv grows up to be an assertive lawyer who always gets her way. Emma grows up to be a mild-mannered middle school teacher who prefers to go with the flow than insist on her own ideas. And the two are stuck together like glue. That is, until both women get engaged and go to book their weddings at the Plaza. A clerical error in the office of their wedding planner (a familiar woman-in-power-suit turn from Candice Bergen) means that their weddings get double booked on the same day at the same time. With the next opening at the coveted location three years away, Emma and Liv descend into bickering and outright wedding warfare. Cue the pranks, which include an unfortunate tanning session a week before the wedding and gift baskets tailored to sabotage another bride's plans to fit into her dress.

Catching a bouquet together

Catching a bouquet together

The implausibility of the scenario is only bolstered by the conspicuous consumption of the characters. The movie is like a postcard from the Housing Market Bubble. Hi there! Remember when it seemed like everyone could (and even should!) wear Vera Wang at their wedding? There is some nod to the wage difference between Emma and Liv, with schoolteacher Emma saying she's saved up for 10 years for this wedding. But it's still a bit difficult to settle into the fantasy of these opulent weddings given the dire economic state of most of the country—including Manhattan. 

Still, if you just keep in mind that Bride Wars is, above all, a kind of fairy tale about friendship—Sex and the City for the American Girl set—you can glide over all these pesky social issues and learn to love the chick flick. And it is a chick flick. The men in the movie are tertiary at best; this love story is about Liv and Emma. And insofar as it showcases the maturation of these women as they learn what is most important in life (hint: it might not be June weddings at the Plaza), its central message is worth keeping.

Talk About It

Discussion starters
  1. Why do you think Liv and Emma were so obsessed with their weddings? Do you see any problem with this sort of preoccupation? Why or why not?

  2. Can you think of a compromise that Liv and Emma could have come up with before things escalated into wedding warfare?

  3. Can you imagine having a similar fight with a friend? Why or why not?

  4. At one point Emma says, "If Fletcher and I were perfect for each other, we'd be getting married right now." Do you see any problems with this statement?

  5. What kind of wedding do you want—or, if you're already married, what kind did you want? Why?

The Family Corner

For parents to consider

Bride Wars is rated PG for suggestive content, language and some rude behavior. It includes quite a bit of innuendo and some questionable language. Both couples live together, a bachelorette party features bare-chested men dancing in tight shorts, and alcohol is used to alleviate stress. And some of the pranks and posturing are just mean.

What other Christian critics are saying:
  1. Plugged In
  2. Crosswalk
  3. Catholic News Service
  4. Past the Popcorn

Bride Wars
Our Rating
2 Stars - Fair
Average Rating
(1 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG (suggestive content, language and some rude behavior)
Directed By
Gary Winick
Run Time
1 hour 29 minutes
Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Candice Bergen
Theatre Release
January 09, 2009 by Columbia Pictures
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