Although not a huge fan of the romantic comedy genre, which dominates this January-February post-end-of-the-year Oscar rush, I admit my interest was piqued when I first saw the trailer for 27 Dresses.
As the story of a perennial bridesmaid struggling to find love and marriage for herself, and starring one of Hollywoods brightest romantic (and dramatic) comedy actresses, the premise presented itself as the perfect balance of talent and lighthearted clich?.
Unfortunately, the film presents quite differently, making 27 Dresses awfully hard to love.
Katherine Heigl plays Jane, the best bridesmaid a bride-to-be could ask for. Dedicated to making sure friends and acquaintances have that most perfect day, Jane spends all of her free time planning and attending weddings.
One night she proves her worth by shuffling back and forth between two wedding receptions: one in Manhattan, the other in Brooklyn. A journalist for the Sunday newspapers social page, Kevin (James Marsden), witnesses Janes reception-juggling and immediately pegs her as a wedding junkie, the perfect subject for a story.
Adding insult to injury, Janes baby sister Tess (Malin Akerman) arrives in town and immediately captures the eye of Janes boss, George (Edward Burns), whom Jane has been secretly in love with for years.
Before Jane knows it, Tess is asking Jane to plan a wedding, which, with some not-so-gentle prodding from Kevin, makes Jane finally realize what her closet full of 27 bridesmaid dresses really represents.
Screenplay writer Aline Brosh McKenna, who adapted The Devil Wears Prada, certainly injects 27 with all the elements of a well-rounded romantic comedy chick flick: rich, motivating subtext regarding Janes childhood; subplots that help mature Jane through the film; and even a requisite crazy friend, played by Judy Greer. But despite all this, 27 never manages to move past being more than just a clever concept.
The film spends too much time leading up to Janes predictable epiphany. Two-thirds of the film is spent watching Jane slowly realize she has lived her life more for others than herself, something we the audience know from frame one.
Director Anne Fletcher further stunts the film by capturing lackluster performances from an otherwise engaging cast although Heigl and Greer each manage to elicit a moment of truly priceless humor.
Barring those moments, and a rousing rendition of an Elton John song, 27 fails to blossom. The film has a truly romantic core, so its heart is certainly in the right place, but the rush to tie it all into stale jokes about dresses makes for a film that is best left buried at the back of Hollywoods closet.
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