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Bride & Prejudice
2005 - PG-13 - 111 Mins.
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Producer: Deepak Nayar
Written By: Jane Austen (novel), Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha
Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Naveen Andrews, Nadira Babbar
Review by: Joe Rickey
Billed as a "reinvention" of the classic Jane Austen tale (itself being redone in a more straightforward manner again later this year with Keira Knightley in the lead), 'Bride & Prejudice', released by Miramax Films and directed by Gurinder Chadha of 2002's 'Bend It Like Beckham' fame, tells the story of a mother who wishes to find the right suitor for her five daughters. She believes to have found what she is looking for in the men who move next door but strong opinions and circumstance threaten to end the relationships before they have a chance to bloom.

'Bride and Prejudice' is Bollywood filmmaking sensibilities that just so happens to be released by a thoroughly Hollywood company, Miramax Films, perhaps the perfect company to release the film given its independent roots. The film is full of the elaborate sets, costumes, and musical numbers that are the signatures of Bollywood (term given to India's film industry known first and foremost for its musical productions). A fairly typical Hollywood romantic comedy of sorts is juxtaposed with the numerous musical numbers with India superstar Aishwarya Rai as the female lead and Martin Henderson (2002's 'The Ring' and 2004's 'Torque') her male counterpart. It is a sorry thing to report that the resulting film is a seemingly endless mesh of forgettable musical numbers and romantic comedy clich├ęs as old as the hills (pun intended).

Although Chadha is obviously adept at filming musical numbers with flamboyance, the multitude present here go on far too long. They are like the annoying new neighbor who comes over to introduce themselves and fail to catch your numerous hints that they long ago overstayed their welcome. Compounding problems is the unmemorable nature of most of the musical numbers. They are given a song and dance routine and then quickly forgotten because of their blandness.

Another issue is that the romantic portions of the film never really click like one expects them to. Part of the problem is the screenplay by Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. They saddle their cast with tired lines about fate, destiny, and overcoming social standing that will hardly seem new to anyone who has read anything by Shakespeare, let alone Austen herself. Mixed with such lines is crass and brash humor that rapidly grows perhaps more tiring than even the musical numbers. Not helping matters are the performances.

In her first role in a Hollywood release, Aishwarya Rai is underwhelming. She comes across as overly obnoxious most of the time, her take-charge persona detrimental to the film. As her romantic interest, Martin Henderson is clearly out of his element. Used to utilizing bravado in such films as 'Torque' and even 'The Ring,' when he is asked to express romantic interest in Rai's character such scenes are devoid of anything even close to resembling chemistry. The two actors seem to hate one another far too much for the audience to buy their eventual romantic relationship.

All of the above leaves 'Bride and Prejudice' as just another example of how even the most skilled director can make a truly bad film.
Movie Guru Rating
A train wreck.  So bad some may find it unintentionally entertaining.
  1 out of 5 stars

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