x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bride wars

This chick flick offers little more than irritating characters, fumbling slapstick and a predictable ending.

Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson in Bride Wars.
Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson in Bride Wars.

If you are a girl who has dreamt about her wedding day since you were born, then please step this way. Bride Wars is for you. It is just the thing for any girl who spent her formative years tottering around in her mother's shoes practising saying "I do".

Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) have been best friends since childhood, and obsessed with their big days for nearly as long. When they are six, their mothers take them for tea at The Plaza Hotel in New York, where the beady-eyed young pair spy a bride and groom mid-ceremony. And that's it. Years of female emancipation are trampled over. The small duo are enraptured because surely a wedding day is what all little girls long for, isn't it?

Shortly after that fateful tea, we see the girls playing at being brides, then the film skips forward 20 years. Liv and Emma have been busy working themselves into hysterics about their weddings. Sure, Emma has become a schoolteacher and Liv has managed to earn herself a law degree, but mostly, it seems, they have spent their maturing years leafing through What Dress? magazine. As luck would have it, they both get engaged to their hapless boyfriends on the same day. Cue a trip to New York's top wedding planner, Marion St Claire (Candice Bergen), and reservations for June dates at The Plaza.

Then catastrophe strikes. And let's be clear: by catastrophe, I don't mean a mere earthquake or a typhoon. It's much worse than that. A diary malfunction at St Claire's office means both weddings are booked for the same day. One of the girls needs to shift her date but there isn't another at The Plaza for three years. Would you believe it? Both girls refuse to reschedule. It is, after all, the culmination of their lives. As St Claire puts it: "You have been dead until now."

The remainder of the film is taken up with cat fighting. Best friends become enemies. There are sabotaged tanning sessions from which Liz emerges the colour of a cheesy Wotsit, and trips to the hairdresser that leave Emma's hair a Smurf-like blue. New levels of cavorting silliness are reached at a bachelorette party. Finally, on the day itself, there is a minor plot twist and a frothy finale that I won't ruin for you.

Actually, yes I will. They both live happily ever after. Because of course that's what always happens after you get married. The end. So unless you are the sort to thrill at Tiffany engagement rings or Vera Wang frocks, this film will have remarkably little to offer you. This is especially true if you are a man, in which case I would stick to Wedding Crashers, the immeasurably funnier, male wedding tale starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan.

Strangely enough, Bride Wars was directed by a man. Two of the three writers were male, too. Reflect on that while watching Liv and Emma battle it out in yards of tulle and the film begins to make sense. "What is it that makes women so crazy about weddings?" asks one prospective groom as the women squabble. What indeed. It's worth noting a couple of good points to the film. Bergen shines as the haughty wedding planner. And Hudson and Hathaway are eminently watchable stars. There is one genuinely touching moment when the two catch sight of each other just before they walk down their respective aisles and sigh, stricken at the thought of missing out on each other's moment. But, by and large, there isn't enough humour, the slapstick is fumbled and the characters are so irritating that you wonder how they managed to secure a proposal in the first place.

Hudson and Hathaway have since said that they never grew up wanting the big, white wedding. Perhaps that's something they should have thought about before signing up to the film.