It’s hard to believe Bride Wars is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The romantic comedy, starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson as two besties-turned-rival brides, opened on Jan. 9, 2009, and earned over $114 million at the box office. The movie has been in heavy rotation on cable TV ever since, and we’ve seen the movie countless times on many lazy Sundays over the last decade. Even though it’s a fun, breezy watch, does Bride Wars really hold up 10 years later? We are delivering some bad news: The movie doesn’t age well if you take a look at the friendship highlighted in the storyline and how it unravels.
Here’s the Bride Wars gist: Two lifelong friends who get engaged at the same time try to plan their dream wedding at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Unfortunately, due to rom-com story wackiness, there is a calendar snafu and they have to get married on the same day. They can no longer serve as each other’s maid of honor.
The entire plotline becomes one of sabotage and revenge — ruining each other’s wedding days, looks and even assassinating one another’s characters. If any of us encountered this in real life, let’s just say it likely wouldn’t end quite as neatly. It’s time to take a closer look at how the film’s perception of female friendship is all wrong in 2019.
There goes the sisterhood
In Bride Wars, the two leads spent years planning and dreaming about their weddings together. They wanted to be each other’s maids of honor and share a rite of passage in a meaningful way. The second their fight for a wedding date becomes an issue, the characters go to war. Eventually, Liv (Hudson) and Emma (Hathaway) completely turn on each other.
The film abandons the notion of a supposed deep-seated friendship by saying that one wedding date at the Plaza Hotel was enough to rock a seemingly solid relationship. Emma and Liv are so deeply invested in this hotel for their weddings they would rather toss away lifelong sisterhood for their big days. It’s the ultimate bridezilla (another stereotype we can do without) nightmare — and for what?!
So much sabotage
The frenemies’ dark plummet into a rabbit hole of sabotage in Bride Wars involves ruining wedding planning to the extreme. This is where the film takes a hard left turn into what is essentially harassment, stalking and humiliation. Yes, this is a fictional film and it’s supposed to be funny, but it feels borderline creepy 10 years later. The duo does everything to mess with each other’s appearances. Liv changes Emma’s spray tan level to nuclear orange. Emma finds a way to mess with the hair dye color and turn Liv’s hair a frosty blue.
Aside from the fact that every beauty industry employee is leaving all their materials unattended for some reason, this next-level form of revenge is pretty evil. Can you imagine if social media had played a role in this film? It would be an even uglier battle.
It even gets physical
There is nothing worse than reinforcing the stereotype of a catfight, but that’s exactly what Bride Wars does as a plot device. As the brides go to celebrate their big days, Liv has planted a DVD of Emma’s antics from a wild spring break vacation. Even after she has a moment of clarity and tries to switch the DVD back to one of their childhood memories, the spring break one is shown.
That’s when Emma runs across the hotel to tackle Liv as she walks down the aisle. There they are on the floor with bouquets of flowers flying and beautiful updos being pulled. It’s the epitome of girl-on-girl crime, and it’s a formulaic movie device that doesn’t work today in this context. In an era of the Time’s Up movement, it feels so much better to support each other. The more we help other women in our jobs and our daily lives, it makes it easier to move forward with change — and that does include Hollywood stereotypes.
Female friendships are so vital to our existence because we walk together through so many of life’s milestones and shared experiences, from motherhood to menopause. The more Hollywood positively focuses on these moments, the more likely these films will hold up as they age.
Bride Wars gave us a chuckle at the time, but after simmering on this movie for 10 years, it’s better to separate the bride from the war. A wedding can truly be a memorable moment in life filled with love and close friends who lift you up — and that’s what we should be celebrating.