Always a bridesmaid, never an original plot

Heigl’s charisma can't save 27 Dresses' formulaic premise

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses

DOES MY HIDEOUS GOWN DISTRACT YOU FROM THIS TERRIBLE FILM? A lovely Katherine Heigl and a talented cast of supporting characters were unable to make 27 Dresses worth the two-hour investment. Better luck next time, Ms. Heigl.

27 Dresses
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Edward Burns, Malin Akerman

2 stars

Due to her role in the critically-acclaimed film Knocked Up this past summer and her continued success on Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl is shaping up to be Hollywood’s newest “it” girl. Unfortunately, her charm could not transform 27 Dresses into anything more than a painfully generic chick flick.

After watching the film’s opening scene, where Jane (Heigl) races back and forth as a bridesmaid in two weddings, the typical romantic comedy/chick flick ending to come is obvious.

Directed by established choreographer Anne Fletcher (Step Up, Hairspray) and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), 27 Dresses offers audiences a predictable plotline with no twists, turns, or bumps in the road " unless you count the scene where Jane and wedding reporter Kevin (Marsden) literally get stuck in the mud in the rural outskirts of New York.

Twenty-seven times the bridesmaid and never a bride, Jane is the picture-perfect right-hand woman to all of her friends on their special days. Hopelessly in love with her boss George (Burns), Jane’s romantic dreams are crushed when her little sister Tess (Akerman) comes back to town, and George falls hard and fast for the blonde bombshell. Jane’s sarcastic and comically inappropriate best friend Casey (Judy Greer) tries to talk some sense into her and insists she can’t sit back and watch her baby sister marry the man she’s been in love with for years.

All the while, New York Journal reporter Kevin relentlessly tries to win Jane over, but is repeatedly turned down. Put the pieces of any formulaic romantic comedy together and the plot unfolds as if adhering to unbreakable guidelines.

Heigl is funny, witty, and genuinely entertaining as the professional and underappreciated bridesmaid. Her talent shines and she makes the weak plot almost bearable. She’s convincing as a responsible, lovesick pushover; you almost feel sorry for her as she plans her sister’s wedding to her dream man.

But then you remember the movie is as transparent as the dry martini you’ll deserve after staying for its entirety, and all sympathy for Jane evaporates.

Akerman, who was born in Sweden but grew up in Toronto, fits the role of a bubbly, beautiful, and overbearing little sister to a tee. While she is more of a stock character, Akerman exercises her ability to throw an impressive temper tantrum.

However, her character’s real purpose seems to be meeting the film’s visible leg quota. Never once seen wearing pants of any kind, it’s no wonder George fell for micro-mini dress wearing Tess over modest, floral print-loving Jane.

Marsden, who starred in recent box office hits like Enchanted and Hairspray, plays the least developed character in the film. It’s as if McKenna tired of tweaking the stock characters of a romantic comedy into something sort-of-new, recycled Drew Barrymore’s role as the reporter-cum-undercover high school student in Never Been Kissed instead.

Despite his character’s lack of creativity, Marsden pulls off the cynical, wedding-hating wedding reporter with as much charm and conviction as possible. The scene where Jane and Kevin get drunk in a bar and belt out Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” to the unsuspecting bar flies is especially entertaining.

27 Dresses provides every corny chick flick cliché in the book. If you’ve seen other wedding-themed movies like My Best Friend’s Wedding, there’s no reason why you should go see this one. If movies were judged on how well they stuck to a formula, this one would emerge victorious. Unfortunately, anyone hoping for more is going to be disappointed.

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