Directed by Anne Fletcher. Starring Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Edward Burns, Judy Greer, Malin Akerman, Melora Hardin. (2008, PG-13, 107 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Jan. 18, 2008
I have seen the future, and it looks like TBS. Maybe TNT. I predict a happy union between 27 Dresses and cable TV, forever rerunning with commercial breaks tailor-made for laundry-loading and sandwich-making. It’s a better fit for this run-of-the-mill romantic comedy about Jane (Knocked Up’s Heigl), always a bridesmaid, never a … well, you know the drill. Those 27 dresses mark the time Jane has spent, as one character puts it, in the taffeta ghetto of bridesmaidery. Lucky for her, she eats it up – saves every dress, clips her favorite wedding announcements from the paper, even knows where and how and to whom she intends to inflict her imaginary nuptials. The lucky man – or not – is her boss, George (Burns, forever toady); unluckily for her, he falls in record time for her glamorous younger sister (Akerman). Jane is stuck planning their wedding while simultaneously dodging the dogged attentions of Kevin (Marsden), a cynical journalist covering the wedding beat but angling for more ambitious work. Heigl anchors the film with all the spaz-tastic charm she brings to (the increasingly ludicrous) Grey’s Anatomy, although one hopes her feature film career holds a role less priggish in the future. But the real star-making turn here belongs to Marsden, an unsung actor who’s played the Bellamy before (you know, the nice guy the girl has to go through to get to the real deal), gallantly stepping aside in favor of X-Men’s Wolverine and Ryan Gosling’s sexy beast in The Notebook. Here, as a mixed-drink of frat boy and existential downer (or is it tall drink of water?), he reminded me of what Anthony Lane once said about Before Sunrise-era Julie Delpy, that she served as “a stern reminder that the first duty of a film critic – the sole qualification, to be honest – is to fall regularly, and pointlessly, in love with the people onscreen.” Marsden, with his easy smile and architecturally sound cheekbones, might be a wee obvious choice, but whatever it takes to pass the time … and 27 Dresses certainly has time to kill. The jokes hit about half the time – the best bits have an off-the-cuff feel – and it’s pocked with the kind of rom-com clichés that are practically written in stone (screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna's script for The Devil Wears Prada was far sharper). There’s the well-worn, improbable group sing-along, albeit this one, hinging on Elton John-inspired malapropisms, is pretty cute – and what validation to know others have mistaken Bennie’s electric boots for electric boobs. Less winning is a last-act, uncomfortably public declaration of love, which has me wondering: How come whenever I have something really important to say, there’s never a mic and an adoring crowd around to twitter, then applaud?