Thursday, July 27, 2017

I'm Just a Boy, Watching a Romantic Comedy: "27 Dresses" (2008)

As I sat through the almost two-hour running time for this film, I kept thinking the same thing over and over again: there is not one laugh to be had here, but I have to keep watching just in case they throw cliche out the window and do something different...aaaand they don't.

Jane is a responsible young woman who works for hunky George (Edward Burns? Really?). She's in love with him, of course, but she is also in love with weddings. Lots of weddings. She thrives on helping good friends through the biggest day of their lives, and has the titular twenty-seven bridesmaid dresses in her closet to prove it. One night, while trying to attend two weddings at the same time, she meets rapscallion Kevin (James Marsden), who is immediately taken with Jane. Conveniently, Jane's "better looking" sister Tess (Malin Akerman) comes back to town, lies her way into George's arms, and suddenly the two are engaged. Jane tries to turn to cynical Kevin, but he conveniently writes her must-read wedding column in a fictitious New York paper, and in actuality hates weddings. Secretly, he is working on an article about Jane and all of her big days, ready to get out of the Style section for good. Jane's careful life begins unraveling as George and Tess' big day nears.

"27 Dresses" has all the cliches. ALL OF THEM. Judy Greer is along to play Jane's oversexed bestie (I'm hard pressed to remember her not playing this same role in other films and television). Kevin has a sex-minded pal (Maulik Pancholy), too, but they don't seem to be too close. The cast gamely goes through the motions, and I really felt my age when Brian Kerwin popped up as Jane and Tess' dad- there was a time a few years ago when he could have played Marsden's part. Every plot point is telegraphed, and it was painful to watch a capable cast pretend that what they were doing was unique. The final shot is nice, but the film runs about twenty minutes too long.

So why not a one-star review? Rake it over the coals? Two words: Katharine Heigl. She is fantastic. Her comic timing is impeccable, she's easy on the eyes, and watching her react to Tess gunning for the man she loves is a treat. Everyone else is so involved in their own lives, they don't see Jane suffering in silence, barely able to utter complete sentences. Heigl pulls this role off so well, she rises high above the sub-par material she was given. When Jane and Kevin meet cute for the first time, both performers must take deep breaths in order to release every double entendre and verbal barb that screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna has cooked up. A lot of the quips could have been spaced out later into the film, when lethargy sets in because you know exactly what will happen next.

In the end, "27 Dresses" is standard stuff, and I don't recommend it. (* *) out of five stars. This film is MPAA rated PG13, and contains profanity and sexual references.