Twenty years ago—as young childhood friends—Emma and Liv witnessed a wonderful thing. It was a June wedding at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. And from that day forward the inseparable girls started scrapbooking, brainstorming and jointly planning every detail of their own glorious weddings.
Top of their lists? 1) Their weddings must take place in June. 2) Their weddings must be at the Plaza. 3) Their weddings must be … perfect. Because everyone knows that a perfect wedding equals happily ever after.
Jump to the present and the women are still the best of friends. And wouldn’t you know it, they both become engaged at the same time. (Liv, the more aggressive of the two, has to push her beau a bit, but he comes through.) Em and Liv go together to the Plaza Hotel and, joy of joys, there are two dates still open for June.
The pretty brides-to-be are set to float into marital bliss, except for one thing. A clerical error lands their big days on the same date. But that can’t work. That’s not feasible. Someone will have to move her wedding to another month. But someone is refusing to budge. Never mind a lifetime of friendship. The (soap) opera gloves come off. The veils are pulled back. And a no-holds-barred bridal beatdown commences.
Emma and Liv really are the closest of friends. And even though an irrational desire to have a “perfect wedding” drives them both to do hurtful things to each other, they eventually realize just how precious their friendship is. (You didn’t think this movie would end with hair on the floor and hatred in the air, did you?) The movie’s narrator points out that sometimes there are “bonds that can never be broken.”
It’s not the only positive development. The two frilly chums also learn that marriage is about much more than just a longed-after event at the Plaza. It’s about bonding a couple together forever. Really!
Through the conflict the girls come to understand different sides of their own personalities. Emma learns to stand up for herself—sometimes too much. And Liv realizes that she doesn’t always have to be in control of everything. Liv wonders aloud at her friend’s selflessness, “You always think of others, Emma. It never occurs to me.”
Liv’s fiancé, Daniel, shows his true stripes in the course of the girl’s conflict. He is patient and supports Liv with wise advice. Emma’s parents are also shown in a favorable light as they display their love for both of the girls.
When the weddings are about to start, pastors stand ready to lead the ceremonies. Liv’s brother opines, “God bless Daniel for wanting to spend his life with my sister.” Emma’s dad passes on a “blessing” to Liv before her wedding.
Throughout the film, most of the women—including Emma and Liv—wear cleavage-revealing tops, tight shorts, short skirts or low-cut gowns. Liv is seen lounging in a pair of midriff-baring pajamas and later in a bra and panties. The girls have a bachelorette party at a male strip club where muscular men disrobe and dance in nothing but small briefs. Emma and Liv join the strippers (they remain dressed) and dance suggestively with them.
When Daniel proposes to Liv, she jumps up and wraps her legs around his waist. Daniel’s fellow employee says, “I love bring your hot girlfriend to work day!” Daniel makes an offhand quip about a blow-up sex doll.
Bride Wars assumes a very nonchalant attitude about premarital sex. Both couples are living together before getting married. We see each couple sharing a bed and kissing.
Pratfall tumbles involve Emma and Liv attempting to wrestle another bride into giving up her wedding date. Emma tackles Liv as she walks down the aisle—the two struggle briefly.
God’s name is mindlessly interjected more than 20 times. The crudities “d–n,” “h—,” “a–” and “b–ch” are used once or twice each. Emma combines “mother” with the f-word stand-in “eff.”
From the very first scene, alcohol flows freely. Beer is consumed in most of the apartment scenes. On several occasions people get a bit drunk. Emma’s maid of honor gets sloshed during a wine tasting session. A bride makes tipsy remarks at her reception. Emma and Liv both drink wine and mini-bottles of booze right before walking down the aisle. Whenever the girls are with their friends, they all drink wine, beer, mixed drinks or tequila shots. Liv wakes with a bad hangover after one party where she was repeatedly tossing back shots. And on it goes.
The wedding planner, Marion St. Claire, misses the mark when she says, “A wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life. You were dead until now.” Someone tells a woman, “Sorry to hear about your divorce.” The woman retorts, “Why? It’s only my first.” Emma and Liv play some pretty dirty tricks on each other. (They range from attacks on each other’s appearance to smearing a reputation.)
One thing is for certain: Bride Wars was not made for males. So, having been named Robert for a reason, I won’t even begin to comment on whether or not it emotionally connects or even if it’s funny.
I can say that the film’s rambunctious female leads inject enough raw energy into it that an otherwise ho-hum idea becomes kinda cute. And their characters ultimately come to better understand the great value of enduring friendship. They learn that marriage is much more than just something you make a super scrapbook about. (Or maybe I should update that to the 21st century by saying it’s more than an evening of great pictures to text to your friends.)
I will also point out, however, that Bride Wars packs a laissez-faire attitude about something Dr. Laura would coldly call “shacking up.” Living with your boyfriend is the only natural thing to do in this cinematic world. Not only that, but through three-quarters of the comedy women are blasting through liquor like Brian Urlacher through the Detroit Lions’ offensive line.
Oh, sorry. That’s the wrong illustration. They go through more booze than Paula Dean goes through collard greens.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.