These are not preliminary selections for the inaugural class of an as-yet-unfounded Hollywood Hall of Shame. They are instead the most recent cinematic abominations to have been released in the early weeks of the new year, dating back to 2005. My colleagues and I regularly joke that if a studio hopes to bury a movie in the cold, efficient style of the mob hiding Jimmy Hoffa, they release it in early January (late August is a suitable alternative). And I've long believed if an intelligent studio sought a surefire hit, they'd counter-program a halfway decent film against the post-holiday garbage, then sit back and watch the box-office receipts pour in.
Bride Wars is that halfway decent film. And if that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it's only because I enlisted in these Wars with tempered expectations (again, the release date) and left pleasantly surprised. Article continues below
Since their earliest days, best friends Liv (Kate Hudson
) and Emma (Anne Hathaway
) have dreamed of getting married in Manhattan's luxurious Plaza Hotel. Miraculously, the two end up getting engaged within weeks of each other, bringing their collective dream one step closer to reality. But when renowned wedding planner Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen
) accidentally books their Plaza weddings on the same day, the girls bare their claws until one of them backs off the overcrowded calendar.
By winning a few small battles, Bride goes a long way toward winning the larger Wars. Director Gary Winick
finds sharp laughs in the nooks and crannies of the formula. He wrung charm out of similar fluff when he helmed the Jennifer Garner
vehicle 13 Going On 30.
Hudson and Hathaway also enjoy a happy marriage of comedic styles. Both leave their inhibitions at the door and embrace the escalating insanity that overwhelms their characters as the "big day" approaches. It helps that the screenplay, while improbable, doesn't talk down to its audience. And the guys in the cast appear as bewildered by the marital mania as most guys in the theaters will be.
Perhaps the biggest surprise arrives just before the credits. I didn't cringe when Wars laid the groundwork for a sequel, which may arrive, oh, nine months from now.