Unlike most American males, I have always been open to viewing a number of films in the male-opposed genre known as "chick flicks". My reason for braving these films are quite simple: first of all, I don't believe its reasonable to assault the merits or quality of a film genre without having explored it to some degree. Second of all, some of these films are actually quite good; quite a few of them actually.
When Harry Met Sally seduced me with a strong level of wit, and dialogue that was reminiscent of Woody Allen's best films. Moulin Rouge was a fascinating and original take on the musical genre, and the utilization of the poetic structure of modern pop music was fascinating. Even the recent Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet vehicle The Holiday proved to be a charming entry into this very populous genre.
It is with this open mind that I chose to watch the recent film 27 Dresses, starring Katherine Heigl, an actress who has been a part of projects I both love (Knocked Up) and loathe (Grey's Anatomy). Unfortunately, the film that I observed was one of the most pathetic, cliche-ridden entries into the genre I have ever experienced. It is difficult to state one definitive reason why this film is awful, as there are many. Therefore, I think it is only best to outline its offenses, for the safety of any possible viewers of the film.
One of the first elements that is blatantly below quality standards is the plot. It details the trials and tribulations of Jamie (Katherine Heigl), a woman who has suffered the disappointment of being "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" no less than 27 times. It is made very apparent … REPEATEDLY … that her only dream is to one day be the bride at the center of all the attention. Adding to this fantasy is Jamie's infatuation with her boss (Edward Burns), whom she admires from afar and who is unaware of her feelings for him. Yet when Jamie's sister comes to visit, her boss and her sister fall for one another and are quickly engaged, leaving Jamie to have to assist with a wedding involving her sister and the object of her affection. Complicating matters is a wedding-related journalist who is secretly trying to compose a story about the notorious serial bridesmaid, while also (predictably) falling for her.
Now if the plot in itself is not enough to make one cringe, the production and presentation of the film does not help matters. One of my strongest beliefs relating to chick flicks is that the quality of a chick flick can be judged by the number of montages it relies upon; the more that are present, the worse the film is. Why? Because many of the montages in these types of films are meant to speed the action along, and if this device is used too often, it would seem apparent that the film has lousy pacing. In this particular film, it seems as if an obnoxious pop music-infused montage creeps onto the screen every 20 minutes.
Another element of the film that is revolting are the characters. None of the characters really possess a quality that is overly endearing, and most of them choose actions through the course of the film that make them downright annoying. Even Edward Burns, an actor I actually enjoy (and who happens to be the director of an excellent and criminally underwatched chick flick, She's the One), felt rather weak here.
And of course, the greatest enemy of the chick flick, the hackneyed cliches, are alive and well in 27 Dresses. We are exposed to ANOTHER idiotic (but somehow "empowering") sing-along to a classic pop song (this time it's Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets"); we have another female character who brags about her adventurous and active sexual lifestyle within the confines of every conversation she has (this time as the protagonist's best friend, played by Judy Greer); once again there is a wealth of awful dialogue that is presented as if it is witty. (My personal favorite: "I feel like I just found out my favorite love song was written about a sandwich", and I impore you to truly reflect on the grandiose idiocy of this particular line.) This and many more are present in the film.
While all of these elements are disturbing, the one that enraged me the most was the tone. More than any other movie, this one seems to embody an epidemic in the world I have come to refer to as "wedding pornography". It has come to my attention that there are a wealth of women who long to have a grand, extravagant wedding, not because they are in love and hope to strengthen and solidify that bond with a significant other, but merely to have a giant, expensive ceremony that is all about them. And it seems that these women place very little emphasis on finding the right person, so long as they can fit in the tuxedo. If you have your doubts about my theory, turn your television to TLC and watch the hosts of shows that are obsessed with the ceremony and place little value on what it represents. This recent obsession is not aiding women in finding happiness and true love, but is merely producing a generation of self-centered spoiled brats who are enamored with the superficial trappings of a wedding and none of the beautiful, deep qualities said ceremony is meant to possess. And if this mentality is a crime, than 27 Dresses should stand as Public Enemy #1.
This film will not prevent me from ever watching another film in this very prolific genre. However, it has dealt a very severe blow to the overall credibility of this classification in film. As Richard Roeper stated in his own review of the film, "Talk about setting the woman’s movement back by about a half-century". It would be unfair to punish an entire genre for the foibles of one terrible movie, but then again, it seems someone should take responsibility for it.