- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

Last year’s chick flicks, from “Sex and the City” to “Mamma Mia!” to “The Women,” celebrated female friendships. This year’s first entry in the genre shows the darker - some might say more realistic - side of relations within the fairer sex.

It ain’t pretty, but it is pretty funny.

Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are best friends who have been inseparable since childhood, despite their very different personalities. Liv’s a tough-as-nails Manhattan attorney, while Emma’s a people-pleasing schoolteacher. Liv shares the wealth, buying her poorer friend designer duds, while Emma shares her expertise, helping her friend better her run time in Central Park.

The women do just about everything together, so it’s not really a surprise when their boyfriends pop the question within a day of each other. Liv and Emma have been dreaming of their weddings since they were little girls. A magical tea at the Plaza Hotel in childhood made them vow to have June weddings there one day.

Luckily, two dates in June are available. The pair has hired Manhattan’s premier wedding planner, Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen, who seems to pop up in just about every big chick flick these days). Her assistant isn’t quite so premier, though, and the girls’ weddings get booked on the same day. One has to change dates and venues, but neither wants to give up the Plaza. So the best friends become worst enemies, and an all-out war ensues as each is determined to destroy the wedding day of the other.

Women’s feelings for each other often walk a fine line between admiration and envy, so the plot of “Bride Wars” isn’t all that preposterous. The movie’s three writers, including “Saturday Night Live” cast member Casey Wilson, have come up with a lot of pretty obvious ways to sabotage what’s commonly considered the happiest day of a woman’s life, but that doesn’t make them any less funny. Liv used to be a bigger girl, and she’s got a tight-fitting Vera Wang dress to fit into, so Emma anonymously sends her sweet treats. Liv thinks it’s her boyfriend, but she soon finds out he’s not the source of the Truffle-opolis, the Jolly Walrus Cookie Bouquet, or even the International Butter Club.

Miss Hudson and Miss Hathaway are both beautiful actresses who aren’t afraid to get dirty in the cause of comedy. “Bride Wars” is rather frothy for their considerable talents, but they seem to be having fun. Kristen Johnston is the standout supporting player as a tipsy teacher who becomes Emma’s rather unhelpful maid of honor. The men - Chris Pratt as Emma’s betrothed, Steve Howey as Liv’s, and Bryan Greenberg as Liv’s brother - don’t get much of a chance to do much. The focus is on the females.

Genre films like this tend to be predictable, but “Bride Wars” offers at least one surprise. I won’t ruin it, but women who can’t take their eyes off the man who’s clearly the best-looking of the bunch might be able to venture a guess.

STARS: ..1/2

TITLE: “Bride Wars”

RATING: PG (suggestive content, language and some rude behavior)

CREDITS: Directed by Gary Winick. Written by Greg DePaul, Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael, with a story by Greg DePaul.

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

WEB SITE: bridewars.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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