Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) have been Bee-Eff-Effs since they were eight, and for the past couple of decades and change, that steamroller of a legal shark and her doormat junior high teacher pal have shared the same wistful, hopelessly romantic dream: a June wedding at The Plaza. ...but hey! Like the man says, sometimes dreams do come true. Both of 'em wind up with rings slipped on their fingers, both of them score the most prestigious wedding planner the world over (Candice Bergen), and...heck, they pull off the impossible and even land a June slot at The Plaza just a few short months out. The only hiccup...? Their weddings are reshuffled to the same day, and there's not another June wedding open at The Plaza for another three years.
C'mon, you know how this goes. Bride Wars belts out a bunch of over-the-top, soul-crushingly laughless, and kinda cruel attacks from two shrill harpies, oh-snap! jabs like "your wedding will be huge...just like your ass at prom!", slapstick so stale and formulaic that you can practically hear that yakety sax from The Benny Hill Show blaring over it, and some teary-eyed sentimentality and quadruple-underlined moral messages to try to wrap everything up at the end. There really isn't anything witty or clever churning around in here, you've already caught whatever might pass for a highlight in the trailers and TV spots, and the best bit of sabotage -- Emma attacking Liv's wedding dress with a Bedazzler -- isn't even in the final cut. I mean, Bride Wars is the chick flick equivalent of a Riblets platter at Applebee's, coldly designed by a gaggle of marketeers to be bland, inoffensive, and disposable. The message at the end of the movie is that "hey, we're lifelong friends! Why be so petty and vindictive?" Why? 'Cause that's what the script tells 'em to do. It all just feels awkwardly forced, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson both spend eightysomething minutes ankle-deep in flop sweat from all the clunky slapstick and double-digit IQ comedy, and...ugh. Can I just grunt "ugh." and move on? Please?
Bride Wars sports kind of an understated visual style, but even if this Blu-ray disc isn't going to top any year-end lists once December rolls around, it still looks decent enough in high-def. Its colors tend to be low-key but can be strikingly bright and beautiful when given half a chance. The image on this Blu-ray is noticeably crisper and more richly detailed than the standard definition DVD packaged alongside it, although only a tiny handful of shots particularly impressed. The slightly gritty texture of Bride Wars' film grain is preserved, showing no signs of overzealous noise reduction or any unwelcome processing at all, really. The source is expectedly free of any nicks or flecks of dust, and the compression never once stutters or sputters anywhere throughout. I wouldn't rank Bride Wars any higher than average for a day-and-date release on Blu-ray, but considering how great pretty much everything fresh out of the theater looks on these shiny five inch discs, "average" isn't an altogether bad thing.
Bride Wars is very lightly letterboxed to preserve its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and the video has been encoded with AVC. The movie and its extras slightly spill over onto the second layer of this BD-50 disc.
It kinda goes without saying that a finger-wagglingly wacky comedy about marriage and friendship isn't packing a hyperaggressive soundtrack. The 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio track on Bride Wars sounds decent enough, though. The surround channels are pretty understated, but they help flesh out the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, and the rears also toss in some reverb at times to beef up that sense of immersion in the more cavernous interiors. The lower frequencies are dominated by music, from the thick, meaty low-end of the song that opens the movie to Rick James blaring in an all-male revue. Bride Wars' dialogue is consistently clean and clear throughout, and I found myself impressed several times by the distinctness and clarity of the mix, particularly the plucked harp strings that kick off "Here Comes the Bride". It's nothing startlingly, jaw-droppingly revelatory or anything, no, but for this sort of flick, Bride Wars is backed by a solid lossless soundtrack.
Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs are served up in Spanish and French, and the long list of subtitles includes streams in English (SDH), Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Portuguese.
Bride Wars is
For a three-disc set, there's really not all that much in the way of extras, but at least they're all in high-def.
The reel of deleted scenes (7 min.) tacks on more of a framing story angle along with some Bedazzler-fu, Jr. Cadet Photoshopping, and more palling around with Liv and Emma's friends. Aside from the "who cares?" alternate opening, the rest of the stuff really isn't bad, and considering that Bride Wars doesn't even manage to break the 90 minute mark, it wouldn't have hurt to have it spliced back in. I guess the movie was shot with a quasi-improvisational bent, and some of the other lines tossed around as Amanda gets ready to chuck her bouquet are piled on here along with Liv trying out different cringe-worthy accents to slink her way into a tanning salon. Those alternate spins run three minutes in total.
Bride Wars takes a stab at livening things up by tossing in a couple of improvised bits with the supporting cast still in character -- one with co-writer/actress June Diane Raphael and another with mister-of-honor Michael Arden -- but they both kind of aimlessly ramble on without any real laughs. Along those same lines is "Man Den", with the Y-chromosomed members of the cast finding sanctuary in a linen closet while shooting this chick flick, and the gag is that they preen on about makeup, dresses, and cute actors the whole time. Blah. All three of those clock in at four minutes a pop.
"Something Old, Something New, and What's That Gonna Cost You?" is a trivia track that runs throughout the movie, but skimming around, I hardly saw it kick in at all. One of its selling points is that it spells out just how much it costs to stage -- and trash! -- a wedding, but even that's really sparse and uneven. The track doesn't bother with the sticker price on Liv's Vera Wang dress or her engagement ring, f'r instance, and even a scene with a couple of actresses darting around a department store with price scanner guns stays untouched. Whatever. I didn't suffer through this from start to finish, but it looks to be a waste of time.
There are also a couple of plugs for a contest to win a 2 carat diamond ring. Bride Wars' three discs fit snugly in a case the same dimensions as most everything else on the format, and...hey! Fox even tossed in a "...something borrowed, something Blu" nod on the banner.
The Final Word
Bride Wars is...well, exactly what it looks like: a bland, pandering not-really-a-comedy about two shrill, petty, and vindictive harpies who learn a message about friendship so glaringly obvious that it really didn't even need to be taught. It's rom-com-by-committee, and dollars to doughnuts you could hammer out something better than this. Uh, but if you caught Bride Wars theatrically and dug it -- or if you've been instructed by your wife/girlfriend/whatever to pick up a copy -- at least you'll be able to inundate yourself with the flick wherever you go, what with this 3-disc set piling on a DVD, a digital copy, and a Blu-ray disc. The extras are anemic, though, and it's not a particularly startlingly beautiful movie or anything, so you're better off sticking with a rental, holding out for the sticker price to plummet, or...better yet!...steering clear altogether. Skip It.