elcome to the January movie season - that wonderful time of year when studios either go wider with their potential award-winning releases or dump bad projects in hopes of getting a little bit of money.
Unfortunately, “Bride Wars” proves to be an example of the latter - an overbearing and obnoxious comedy that takes one very talented actress (Anne Hathaway) and a potentially acceptable co-star (Kate Hudson) and throws them into a film with very little redeeming qualities.
Hathaway and Hudson play Emma and Liv, lifelong friends with dreams of having the perfect weddings in a posh New York hotel.
Those dreams appear to be a reality when both ladies get engaged and book weddings on different weekends. When the reservations get mixed up and both weddings are scheduled on the same day, the lifelong friends become bitter rivals - with each trying to force the other into changing their respective date.
The attempt is supposed to be some kind of satirical look at the frenzied fascination with the ultimate wedding, but the execution resembles a low-grade TV sitcom that gets canceled after one episode.
There isn’t one character in this film who does anything that would resemble the behavior of a normal human being. Instead, Greg DePaul and Casey Wilson’s screenplay turns the two leads into loud, overbearing caricatures that no moviegoer will care about.
I was also quite offended by the way the fiances were portrayed - with neither groom-to-be doing the obvious (you know like getting their psychotic girlfriends to come to their senses).
To Hathaway’s credit, she manages to escape with a little dignity. The same can’t be said for Hudson, who has continued to make bad career decision after bad career decision after her stunning Oscar-nominated performance in “Almost Famous.” Hudson’s streak of bad films is starting to stack so high that I’m beginning to wonder if “Famous” was a fluke.
“Bride Wars” also features small roles by Candice Bergen, as the wedding planner, and Kristen Johnston, as Hathaway’s annoying co-worker, but like the rest of the film nothing in their performances really works.
This is the second straight year that 20th Century Fox has opened a wedding themed romantic comedy in January (“27 Dresses” opened last year), and for the second straight year the studio has released a film that is neither romantic nor a comedy.
Here’s hoping the studio doesn’t try the formula again this time next year.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (B+) - Woody Allen’s latest film that features strong work from Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson, and a star-making performance from Rebecca Hall.
Johansson and Hall play Cristina and Vicky, two American friends who decide to spend the summer in Spain.
When the pair meets an eccentric painter named Juan Antonio (Bardem), both become smitten with him. While Vicky, who is engaged, resents the temptation, Cristina becomes involved with the painter - engaging in a steamy relationship that becomes something more when Juan’s slightly off kilter ex-wife (Cruz) re-enters the picture.
Allen’s film is a visual feast, with the cinematography perfectly capturing the Spanish landscape, combined with a talented cast that gets the most out of their respective roles.
Johansson continues to show that she is a capable actress when given the right material, while Bardem does a 180 degree turn from his Oscar-winning role in “No Country For Old Men.”
Cruz is very good in a role that could very well get her an Oscar of her own, but the real star of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is Hall. Her character’s sexual discovery is the heart and soul of the film and Hall proves to be up to the challenge. Her performance is authentic and fresh; lacking the flash of Cruz’s work, but just as impactful. If I had a vote, it would be Hall and not Cruz who gets a call next Thursday when Oscar nominations come out.
That’s not to take anything away from Cruz, who is very good as well, but this is a film that draws its strength from Allen’s sharp screenplay and direction and Hall’s surprisingly impressive work. This film may not quite be up to the level of Allen’s “Match Point,” but it’s pretty close.
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality and smoking and is now available on DVD.
— Like Hudson and Hathaway, sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton has been accused of being a loud, overbearing caricature that no moviegoer will care about. Share your own thoughts, questions or more accusations by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.