All dressed up and no one to wed
See Jane attend a wedding. See Jane rush to another. See a little bit of yourself in Jane’s struggle to accommodate others while not spreading herself too thin.
Despite its slightly predictable plotline, 27 Dresses manages to deliver a feel-good romantic comedy while underscoring the importance of taking charge of one’s life.
More than always being a bridesmaid, Jane (Katherine Heigl) is the perpetual pushover, who rationalizes her propensity for people-pleasing by convincing herself that she just likes to.
Jane’s desire to help makes her a bridesmaid 27 times over, once causing her to serve as maid of honor for two weddings at once. Though she’s attended countless weddings, the brides she aids never develop into characters – they just make cameos during their times of need. This suggests that despite Jane’s insistence that all of these women are “close friends” she feels she must help, the issue is really that Jane just can’t say no. To anyone. Ever. Even when she’s coached to say no to people, shortly after the exercise ends she winds up still saying yes.
This inability to stand up for herself makes her unwittingly trapped at work, as she not-so-secretly pines for her boss (Edward Burns, Saving Private Ryan, The Holiday), agreeing to deliver his laundry on the weekends and work late just to satisfy him. Her dreams of donning lacey veils and items old, new, borrowed and blue are soon dashed, however, when her boss falls in love with Jane’s Baby-Spice-meets-Cameron-Diaz little sister, Tess (Malin Akerman, The Heartbreak Kid, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle).
Throw into the mix a tenacious journalist with chiseled cheekbones (James Marsden) who’s bent on writing a feature story on Jane’s super-bridesmaid lifestyle to further his career, and the formula’s just right for the crucial romantic comedy love triangle - or quadrilateral? – to unfold.
27 Dresses sits solidly in the chick flick genre, offering taffeta and tulle-laden photo montages of Jane’s hideous bridesmaid dresses and unabashedly cheesy guilty pleasure moments, like when Jane and the journalist get drunk and sing what each thinks is the lyrics to “Benny and the Jets.”
Heigl brings back the same subtle – yet well-utilized – sense of comedic timing that made her stand out in last summer’s Knocked Up, and though her character’s people-pleasing attitude may not be too unlike that of Izzie from Grey’s Anatomy, she plays Jane with less paranoia and more of a calm demeanor, making this character more likable.
Though Marsden is better known for playing the jilted lover (evidenced in X-Men, The Notebook, Superman Returns and, most recently, Enchanted), he held his own as Jane’s romantic foil, who persistently chases Jane while lacing his words with a heavy dose of cynicism to emphasize her unyielding positivity.
One of the film’s best additions, however, is Jane’s sarcastic and brazen friend, Casey (Judy Greer, 13 Going on 30, Elizabethtown). Her caustic comments, along with Marsden’s, prevent the film from reaching the saccharine-sweet, eye-roll-inducing fluff common to matrimonial flicks such as The Wedding Planner and The Bachelor.
While Marsden and Greer pulled off the sarcastic roles seamlessly, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna can be thanked for keeping the film from being too lovey-dovey, employing the same flourishes of wit that separated her film adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada from its inspiration, Lauren Weisberger’s whiny novel.
Overall, it’s a fun film to watch on a girls’ night out or on a lazy weekend afternoon. Just don’t bring the boyfriend. In addition to grumbling through the whole thing, he may force you to sit through a Rambo marathon to regain his masculinity afterward.
Grade: B+ Run time: 107 mins.