In " Bride Wars," a cheerfully sexist, bourgeois comedy, two women trash their friendship while battling for a wedding date at a posh hotel. Imagine one of those claws-out reality shows, like "The Bachelor," only without the self-awareness. Better yet, imagine a disempowering "Mean Girls."
Kate Hudson plays Liv, and Anne Hathaway plays Emma, who as children spent an inordinate amount of time dreaming - and writing and drawing and playacting - about a June wedding at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel. Now 26, they have fulfilling careers as an attorney and a schoolteacher, respectively, but they're still dreaming: At a friend's wedding they nitpick the decor and smugly decide theirs will be better.
Engaged almost simultaneously by their almost interchangeable beaus (Steve Howey and Chris Pratt), the two friends dash off to see the wedding wizard, Marion St. Claire ( Candice Bergen, who also provides a syrupy narration). But when Marion mistakenly books both parties at the Plaza on the same date, neither Liv nor Emma will reschedule. Pride soon turns to spite, and the friends become enemies.
What follows is a series of petty pranks aimed at female sore spots like beauty, weight and chastity. Emma sends chocolates to Liv, hoping she'll balloon out of her Vera Wang dress; Liv spreads a rumor that Emma is marrying to legitimize a pregnancy.
The two leads show off their natural fizz, and Hathaway shines during a bachelorette dance-off - who knew she could grind like Lil' Kim? - but both are wasted by director Gary Winick and his three screenwriters, whose idea of a climax is a dress-ripping catfight. "Bride Wars" treads so far backward you may wonder why these women don't cry "witch" and have each other burned at the stake.
PLOT Two friends accidentally schedule their weddings for the same date.
CAST Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Candice Bergen
PLAYING AT Area theaters
BOTTOM LINE Hathaway and Hudson, both natural charmers, are reduced to female stereotypes in this outdated comedy.