Sara Vilkomerson’s Guide To This Week’s Movies: Brides Gone Bananas

Some honesty upfront: We were totally appalled by the trailer for Bride Wars. The story line, about lifelong best friends who are both inexplicably obsessed with getting married in June at the Plaza, and who, because of a scheduling snafu, are booked on the same day (which in turn causes them to morph from rational adults into scheming saboteurs), actually made us mad! We’re happy to report that this film was approximately 37 percent less horrifying than we had guessed, and even possessed some surprising depth that was obscured in the preview, which concentrated mainly on the hijinks of spray-tan savaging and hair dye debacles.

Anne Hathaway, fresh off her Oscar-buzzy role in Rachel Getting Married (we’d love to talk to her agent about her career choices someday), plays Emma, a public schoolteacher (with an enviable designer wardrobe) who takes being passive into doormat territory. Her bestie, Kate Hudson’s Liv, is type A to the extreme, a high-powered attorney with an even fancier wardrobe, not to mention the better boyfriend. The women manage to get engaged within days of each other, and book the top wedding planner, played by the ever-droll Candace Bergen (Hollywood, would you please use this woman for something besides the occasional one-liner?), who is partly responsible in the double booking of the weddings. Neither bride will budge and—surprise!—all hell breaks loose.

Our main issue with Bride Wars’ setup is that two clearly smart people with even an ounce of common sense between them wouldn’t toss aside their history and friendship (particularly when it means that neither can attend the other’s wedding and all their common friends have to choose sides), and certainly wouldn’t go as far as to actually try to ruin the other’s wedding if they found themselves in this situation. While we admit that many women do tend to become a bit, um, nutty during their wedding planning, most reasonable human beings over the age of 25 would never tackle another woman wearing Vera Wang, turn someone orange, or try to nefariously make someone gain weight. O.K.? Stop the insanity!  However, that said, the screenplay—co-written by Saturday Night Live’s Casey Wilson, who makes a brief and funny cameo—does manage to poke at some of the darker truths and complications of close female friendships that have nothing to do with getting married: namely, the innate competitiveness and jealousy that can nag at even the best of us. Both Ms. Hudson (a producer on the film) and Ms. Hathaway are incredibly likable, which goes a long way in this one—particularly for Ms. Hathaway, who has the more dislikable character of the two. The film makes a couple of gratifying detours, and we have to admit to being kind of pleased with the ending. Look for the still-shockingly-tall Kristin Johnson to try and steal the whole damn thing in her role as maid of honor from hell.

Bride Wars opens Friday at Regal Cinemas Battery Park and United Artists 64th and 2nd.