The Long Strange Career Of Kate Hudson

Every time I've gone to a movie within the last few weeks, I've been forced to sit through the trailer for Bride Wars, a movie that appears to be an abrasive rom-com about a pair of feuding BFFs trying to sabotage each other's weddings. Every time I see the trailer, I wonder what possibly could have made Anne Hathaway take on the role of one of these vacuous, self-centered brides. After all, the former Disney princess seemed poised to leave those types of roles behind her with her meaty dramatic performance in Rachel Getting Married.

Critics everywhere are guaranteeing she'll earn her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a recovering drug addict who's let out of rehab for the weekend to attend her sister's tension-filled wedding. But I worry the Academy might be less inclined to hand over the gold after seeing her in this other, much less promising-looking wedding movie. And it doesn't help her chances at all that the actress she's seen tackling to the ground in the Bride Wars trailer happens to be Kate Hudson, Hollywood's favorite fallen critics' darling. If Hathaway was looking for a role model in her quest to take her career to the next level, she sure picked the wrong co-star.

When Kate Hudson began her career in the late '90s, all she wanted to do was prove her merits as an actress without appearing to ride the coattails of her famous mom, Goldie Hawn. After a few roles in forgettable films like 200 Cigarettes, Hudson achieved her goal by delivering a mesmerizing performance as "band-aide" Penny Lane in Almost Famous. Hudson's perfect blend of charisma and vulnerability earned her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, and even an Oscar nomination. She was the new It Girl, and everyone was dying to see what she'd do next.

Hudson was offered the role of Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man, but chose instead to star in the period piece The Four Feathers, opposite Heath Ledger. The Four Feathers was tepidly received, but it still seemed she'd made the respectable choice by opting for the Victorian drama over the superhero blockbuster.

Her commercial appeal made a big rebound in 2003 when she chose to star in the romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with the super-hunk Matthew McConaughey. The movie was silly and shallow, but a big hit at the box office. No one could deny that Hudson had a gift for this brand of light, flirty fluff.

Too bad Hudson decided to exploit that gift. Since How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, she's appeared in seven films. Out of these seven, all but one of them could be classified as a romantic comedy. In Alex and Emma, she played a sassy typist who falls for a neurotic author. In Raising Helen she was a sassy party girl tasked with raising the orphaned children of her dead sister, falling in love with their school principal on the way. In You, Me and Dupree she was a sassy newlywed who becomes attracted to her uptight husband's outrageous house guest. And in Fool's Gold, she re-teamed with McConaughey as a sassy divorcée who rekindles her relationship with her ex as they search for buried treasure. The critics who hadn't been able to find enough praise to bestow upon her performance in Almost Famous eventually became so bored by her they could've created a fill-in-the-blanks template to review all her movies.

How could an actress who burst onto the scene with such a multi-faceted performance end up with such a one-note career? The answer appears to be that she never pushed herself. Once she found her rom-com niche, she never stepped out of it (with the one exception of her role in the forgettable horror film The Skeleton Key). Legend has it she aggressively pursued the role of Penny Lane in Almost Famous because of a genuine passion for the music and fashion of the '70s, a passion her character shared. Unfortunately, if there's anything else Kate Hudson is passionate about, she hasn't brought it to any of her subsequent roles. Instead, she's accepted obvious roles that haven't required her to be anything more than cheerful and blonde.

Anne Hathaway is going to have Hollywood at her feet once she locks in that Oscar nomination, just like Hudson did back in 2001. She'll be offered any kind of role she wants. Hopefully, she'll do better than her Bride Wars co-star, and look for bigger challenges in her roles than fighting over a wedding dress.