27 DRESSES

PG_13, 111 min, 2008

Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna
Stars: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman

Here, I’m afraid, the setup could not be simpler: Jane (Katherine Heigl of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy and Knocked Up) is a marriage-obsessed little girl in the body of an early-30s “old maid.” The saying, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” may have been coined by prefiguring her existence. Jane has a quirk, you see: she attends every single wedding of her (apparently) many friends (and, we suspect, virtual strangers as well) only because she loves being at weddings. She dreams of her own wedding someday and seems to see it as an unhealthy exercise of her fantasy life.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Jane is the assistant to a handsome, rich bachelor and apparently wonderful humanitarian businessman named George (Edward Burns), for whom she has a long-standing working relationship and a seemingly incurably unrequited crush. Things get sticky when Jane’s sister Tess (Malin Akerman), her apparent polar opposite, breezes into town and somehow (for reasons passing understanding) charms George off his feet. Jane resents this, but sits back idly, waiting and watching – for what? For George to overcome his newfound attraction to her younger sibling and suddenly fall for his long-reliable subordinate? Does this make sense to you?

Oh, yeah (almost forgot): There’s a reporter named Kevin (or something like that), played by James Marsden, who just so happens to be Jane’s all-time favorite reporter in the wedding section of a newspaper, and who just so happens to have no belief whatsoever in the “magic” of matrimony. And that’s quite enough of the plot, which reminded me a tad of another awful “romantic comedy” from about the same time a year previous which was also about a marriage-obsessed sociopath and insanity veiled as cute humor. That was Because I Said So. For the sake of the many actresses in that, who ranged from the decent to the vastly superior and talented, I will redact their names here in hopes of sparing them the reminder of that poor career choice, to say nothing of connecting them to this monstrosity.

So now: Ten things I considered while watching 27 Dresses:

10. Given that this film spends 111 laughless minutes to reach a very foregone conclusion, it would seem to have the very definition of an “Idiot Plot.” You may recall the “Idiot Plot” as any story which can be resolved by the simple utterance of a sentence or two by a major character – then fade out, roll credits. This film has Idiot Plots within Idiot Plots, and I can’t be sure but I think those are concealed by yet another overarching Idiot Plot – it’s astonishing (and not in the good way).

9. Given that she’s a fairly decent actress, and not incapable of being funny in the right material (which this isn’t by a longshot), why then does Katherine Heigl seem to actively pursue a career in dumb films and TV shows which make her look and sound stupid and unattractive?

8. Why is it that in an alleged romantic comedy, the cynical “marriage is a business, nothing more” reporter appears (for most of the running time) to be the most “sympathetic” character?

7. What does it say that the best moment in the film comes early on with Heigl staring moonily at her boss only to have the obligatory best friend (Judy Greer) literally attempt to slap some sense into her?

6. That being said, how bad does an alleged romantic comedy have to be to render Judy Greer ineffectual and rather unamusing?

5. Perhaps it’s just me, but has Elton John’s “Benny & the Jets” ever sounded as awful as it does in this film? And on a musical sidenote, what does it say that the trailer features a wonderful Regina Spektor song (which doesn’t appear in the actual movie) and that that was the fondest memory I had in the end?

4. There would seem to be a fundamental flaw in the (would-be) logic of this movie’s plot: Why is the heroine an obsessed borderline stalker? Are we supposed to root for her? How? Why does what she does in the end show sociopathic tendencies? Furthermore, why is it that not one but both of the film’s so-called leading men actually are still attracted to her after this point in the story? And why does the film go on another half an hour from there?!?

3. The screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna and direction by Anne Fletcher are roughly as generic and utterly lacking in style and wit as I could (I hope) possibly fathom.

2. Why does Hollywood spend tens of millions of dollars on awful, forgettable feature length sitcoms and dump them on the scrap heap that is the January and February release calendar (where they notoriously put the films they know critics will pan and audiences will lap up and/or eventually rent on DVD)?

1. Am I being too hard on this movie? I felt like it was all sort of innocuous and well-meaning and trying to be harmless fun, but I couldn’t get over how unfunny and, in the end, apparently bottomless the pit of despair this film caused me to descend into was. Is there an audience for this movie? Probably. Am I it? I hope not. Is it worth a look? Ultimately, I really kinda loathed it.

Note: You might wonder what possible value I could’ve gleaned from this film? On the one hand, all I get is 111 minutes of my life wasted and another negative review to write. On the positive side, should I ever be tortured by our government, I think I might actually be able to stand it! And: Call me a Scrooge but: am I the only one who wanted the two sisters to murder each other in that hardware store toward the end? Talk about a tone change… 

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