It could certainly swing either way, but if a movie sets itself up to be middle-of-the-road – that is, it doesn’t have big expectations to meet but tries to at least achieve competence – and then throws in a flourish or two of nice scenes, punchy dialogue, or something unexpected, can it in some small way be respectable despite its initial laziness?
Because when you lay it all out on the table, 27 Dresses is not unlike a lot of romantic comedies you’re likely to see (or unlikely to see, if you really know what’s good for you). We’re trained by the formula to spot the damsel and her prince, we know there’s going to be one scene toward the end where it appears all hope is lost, and we know there will be a surly best friend who has no life of her own.
All three elements are easy to spot in 27 Dresses, which casts Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy) as Jane, the living embodiment of the phrase, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” She’s been in 27 wedding parties, and usually, she winds up planning some of the weddings herself. She loves it until the day her sister (Malin Akerman from The Heartbreak Kid) comes home from Europe and falls in love with Jane’s boss (Edward Burns). That wouldn’t be a problem except that Jane has secretly pined for her boss for years… and now he’s engaged to her sister. Yowza.
Enter Kevin (James Marsden), a cynical wedding reporter who’s writing a story on the girl with the two dozen bridesmaid dresses. Clearly, he can’t be all bad or he wouldn’t be in the running for Prince Charming, but Jane has a prickly relationship with him from the start.
Heigl is better and shows more comedic touch here than in Knocked Up, which is not at all to say that this movie is better. But unlike the Judd Apatow film, which probably had the distinct aroma of being a guy’s club, 27 Dresses was written by a woman, has a female director (Step Up's Anne Fletcher), and has a more feminine touch to it, and that probably just makes Heigl more comfortable.
She’s particularly good in her scenes with Marsden, and thanks to this role and Enchanted, he’s probably on romantic comedy speed dial for the next couple years.
But is 27 Dresses good? At times, possibly, albeit briefly. It’s certainly not a disaster. Most of all, it knows the rules of the game, it knows its limitations, and it knows where it can exceed them, which might at least be respectable.
Starring Katherine Heigl, James Marsden and Edward Burns
Directed by Anne Fletcher