Were it not for the fact that most audiences are savvy enough to know that films aren’t produced in the space of mere months, they may have been forgiven for assuming 27 Dresses was the product of the current Writers Guild of America strike. Predictable and derivative, it fails on almost every level.
As will have been obvious from the trailer that abuses its source by stealing all of its best lines and plot devices, Jane (Katherine Heigl) is a perpetual bridesmaid, having been involved in – you guessed it – 27 weddings. She keeps all her dresses in an overstuffed closet, along with the accompanying hairpieces, shoes and other wedding-related paraphernalia. She is introduced to the audience as Maid of Honour in two separate weddings on the same night (gosh!), somehow cunningly managing to pull it off. When her kid sister Tess (Malin Akerman) comes to town, however, her world is turned upside down, although when she happens to meet a handsome newspaper columnist (James Marsden as Kevin) she finally has the chance to get things right.
There are scattered scenes in which Kevin and Jane spar that allow a minimal chemistry to develop between them, although these are far outweighed by the lumbering and dull. A romantic comedy with a wafer-thin plot lasting 107 minutes is simply excessive, and the added bulk does nothing for the film. With liberal editing there may have been a little more zest, but in this form 27 Dresses is almost lifeless. Additionally, its script is hopelessly repetitive, with Jane calling Kevin ‘cynical’ more often than is healthy – a simple glance through a thesaurus may have suggested many other adjectives appropriate for Jane’s sentiment. The script smacks of pure laziness, haste, or both.
As if the dialogue weren’t enough, the choice of disaster to befall the romantic pairing just when it seems they will get it together and live happily ever after has only recently been seen on screen in Hitch. Swap the genders of the leads (and decrease the level of vindictiveness), and there you have it… a ready-made critical mistake to threaten their relationship before it even gets going, and all you had to do was wander to the video store.
While Heigl tries hard to elevate her performance above its source, her considerable charm is wasted on material such as this. Marsden fairs a little better than in Enchanted, although playing a ‘Prince Charming’ role two films in a row risks leaving him typecast. Akerman reprises her ‘sweet but crazy underneath’ character from The Heartbreak Kid, and Judy Greer suffers through stereotypical ‘sarcastic friend’ without hurting herself. Surely none of the players will be satisfied with their roles.
Aside from the abysmal script and unimaginative plotting, its opinion of brides and weddings is confused, and its intentions regarding its characters difficult to understand. Rather embarrassing in many parts, 27 Dresses is unlikely to look good on anyone’s resume in coming years, and although Heigl is the current ‘it’ girl this should only enhance her appeal amongst the least critical. The final moments are priceless, however, but only for that exquisite sense of unease that comes with being witness to something utterly mortifying.Rating: