Bride Wars (Blu-ray)
Directed by Gary Winick
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 89 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, others
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: April 28, 2009
Review Date: May 5, 2009
After all of the good will that such smart romantic comedies like The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City generated for the genre, a truly deficient piece of goods like Bride Wars is especially disappointing. With a fine cast and an expensive production, one expects better than a slapdash slapstick comedy of mutual misunderstandings devolving into a series of absurd practical jokes. Bride Wars is a humiliating misfire on almost every front.
Lifelong best friends, Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) find themselves in a quandary when a silly oversight in their wedding planner’s (Candice Bergen) office schedules their weddings for the same June date at the hard-to-book Plaza Hotel. With neither girl willing to concede the date to the other (the next available June date at the Plaza would be in three years) and the idea of having a double wedding completely out of the question (without a really satisfactory explanation why that would be so), the girls then embark on a series of diabolical plots to ruin each other’s special day. From stealing the preferred DJ to making sure spray-on tans and hair dyes come out ghastly, the practical jokes don’t stop even through the marching down the aisle.
Greg DePaul, Casey Wilson, and June Diane Raphael take credit for the limp-as-a-wet noodle screenplay, an endless and endlessly unfunny string of manufactured catastrophes that don’t just divide audience sympathies for the girls, they completely undermine them. The pranks they play on each other are so shrill and mean-spirited that all sense of fun seems lost. The men in the equation - grooms Nate (Bryan Greenberg) and Fletcher (Chris Pratt) and Liv’s “man of honor” Kevin (Michael Arden) - seem out of the loop doing nothing to put these absurd shenanigans to rest. Of course, nothing remotely resembling real life is at work here, so when the writers pull a last minute change of heart out of left field, it’s even more infuriating since such a decision hasn’t been earned by the choppy writing and less than assured, by-the-numbers direction.
Kate Hudson, who’s also one of the film’s producers, is brittle and flat as Liv, seemingly possessing none of her mother Goldie Hawn’s lithe and easy way with comedy lines or slapstick situations. Anne Hathaway as the kinder and gentler of the two leading players gets the best of the lines and is more at ease with the broad comedy strokes of the script, but she's still slumming here. Candice Bergen plays the assured wedding planner without imbuing it with much spice while Kristen Johnston’s selfish, boorish fellow teacher overplays in a desperate attempt to spew humor from a feeble fountain. Of the gentlemen, only Michael Arden as the law office colleague Hudson must conscript to be her maid of honor since she has no other close female friends manages to act his role without resorting to overacting. Steve Howey as Daniel, Hudson’s sweet-natured brother quietly waiting on the sidelines pining for Hathaway, does what he can with the wickedly underdeveloped part.
The film is framed at 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The picture is of above average sharpness with details in clothes and skin textures readily apparent without that minute sharpness that only the finest high definition transfers display. Flesh tones are natural and appealing, and color depth in general seems very good indeed. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is very typically for a comedy much more confined to the front channels with very little happening in the rears. The music score by Edward Shearmur along with a handful of pop songs make the most use of the limited surround opportunities. The subwoofer has in effect nothing to do during the 89-minute running time of the movie though a few of the trailers on the disc will make use of it.
“Something Old, Something New and What That’s Gonna Cost You” is a pop-up trivia track which the viewer can activate filled with information about the New York City names and places that appear during the movie and keeping a running tab on the cost of various wedding preparations undertaken during the movie.
There are seven deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 7-minute configuration. They’re presented in 1080p.
Two scenes dealing with improvisations are offered for viewing. Together they run 2 ¾ minutes, but they can be viewed separately. Both are in 1080p.
As if the product placement wasn’t shameless enough in the film, we have “Meet Me at The Plaza,” basically a 6 ¾-minute promotion for all the Plaza Hotel has to offer in terms of wedding accommodations.
More product placement finds its way into the bonus features with “That Perfect White Dress” which sings the praises of Vera Wang’s wedding dress, fashion, and accessories lines. This featurette runs 4 ½ minutes in 1080p.
Two Fox Movie Channel “In Character” interviews find Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway each individually talking about their characters for the cable channel. Hudson’s interview lasts 2 ¼ minutes while Hathaway talks for 3 ¼ minutes. Both are in 480i.
The best of the disc’s bonus features is “Man Den” where actors Bryan Greenberg, Chris Pratt, and Steve Howey spend a reasonably amusing tongue-in-cheek 4 ¼ minutes escaping from the estrogen on the set so they can get some quiet “man time” and talk about feelings, get gooey-eyed about the outstanding attributes of certain male stars, and discuss clothes and fashion tips. It’s in 1080p.
“Maid of Honor” finds Michael Arden in his movie character of Kevin improvising about all his responsibilities assisting Liv with her special day. It’s in 1080p and lasts 4 ½ minutes.
“Amanda-Cam” is a less funny 4 ½ minutes of improvisation from actress-writer June Diane Raphael as the drunken, much-married Amanda. It lasts 4 ¼ minutes.
There are trailers for I Love You Beth Cooper, A Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Fame, Marley & Me, and The Pink Panther 2, among others. They're in 1080p.
Disc two in the set is a DVD version of the movie.
Disc three in the set is the digital copy of the movie. Included in the case is an instruction sheet for installing on a Mac or PC device.
Bride Wars is a shrill, overdone romantic farce that features a weak script and erratic performances from its talented cast. Without sterling bonus features and with a good but not great high definition presentation, this film might best be a rental for those interested.