Eric D. Snider

27 Dresses

Movie Review

27 Dresses

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: D

Released: January 18, 2008

 

Directed by:

Cast:

"27 Dresses" makes the bold decision to focus on a character who flatly refuses to speak up for herself or express her feelings. It's possible to craft an engaging story around such an indecisive figure -- "Hamlet" comes to mind -- but it's not easy, particularly in a light romantic comedy. Viewers want a protagonist to root for, to sympathize with, and to agree with. I find none of that in Jane.

Jane (played by Katherine Heigl) is a nice young woman whose inability to say no has resulted in her appearing as a bridesmaid in 27 weddings (and counting!). She's the ultimate best girlfriend, clever at organizing, a whiz with last-minute preparations. She's the one the brides thank during the reception for being such a rock during this hectic time. It's her calling in life.

She works as the assistant to an outdoor-magazine publisher named George (Edward Burns), with whom she is silently in love. George sees Jane the same way her friends do, as an indispensable assistant, having no inkling that she has feelings for him.

This is not his fault. He's not just an oblivious male. Jane simply cannot, will not, does not reveal how she feels. The film is ultimately the story of her growing a spine, but the process is slow and frustrating. I can buy that she doesn't speak up initially. But what about when her selfish, shallow sister Tess (Malin Akerman) blows into town, starts dating George, and is soon engaged to him? How, in all of that, can Jane persist in not revealing her apparently very deep love for him?

In the meantime, Jane meets Kevin (James Marsden), a newspaper reporter who writes fluffy human-interest stories for the weddings section. This means attending about as many weddings as Jane does -- apparently this paper covers ALL weddings, even socially insignificant ones -- albeit with a much more skeptical attitude. Kevin thinks weddings are a silly waste of money; Jane thinks they're romantic and beautiful. Kevin cheerfully keeps trying to date Jane; she resists because of his wedding cynicism, even though he's pretty upbeat and fun otherwise. Kevin is assigned to cover the impending Tess-George wedding; for some reason this means he must hang around the couple and their friends and family 24 hours a day for like a month. (Yeesh, you'd think Tess was one of the Kennedys.) And so Kevin and Jane spend time together, and a romantic comedy is born.

Jane is played by Katherine Heigl, enjoying her newly minted "Knocked Up" comedic credibility and no doubt eager to prove she doesn't need Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen to make her funny. But whoops! Apparently she does. "27 Dresses" is overflowing with forced whimsy, like the trying-too-hard-to-seem-natural interplay between Jane and her sister Tess. "Look, ha ha, they have shared inside jokes! They are like real sisters! Ha ha!" But Heigl's lifeless and dour delivery eliminates every trace of believability. Her scenes with her best gal pal Casey (Judy Greer) would suffer the same fate were it not for Greer's natural gift for making average dialogue funny. She alone seems to be putting forth some effort. Everyone else is sleepwalking.

Well, maybe not Marsden. He's ever-smiling and enthusiastic as Kevin, like some kind of magical imp who's pestering Jane into behaving like a human being. She definitely needs someone like him; I'm not sure what he sees in her, though. Maybe he wants a project, someone to fix? Is it only women who do that?

The film is utterly faithful to every requirement on the Romantic Comedy Checklist, and that's an observation, not a complaint. You don't have to do something new to be successful. But plodding through the tropes and cliches and plot points with so little imagination isn't going to wow anyone, and "27 Dresses" -- directed by Anne Fletcher ("Step Up") and written by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada") -- plays like it thinks it's the first romantic comedy the audience has ever seen. The film is 80 minutes old; I guess it must be time for the central couple to break up when one party learns that the other has been dishonest about something. Oh, and here we are at the 90-minute mark. Time for a public reconciliation, then! Yawn.

Grade: D

Rated PG-13, scattered profanity, mild innuendo

1 hr., 47 min.

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This item has 29 comments

  1. Ben C. says:

    dang. My pregnant wife want to see this, so looks like I'm going to have to suffer through it. I was at least hoping it would be 1/2 way decent. Maybe I can convince her to go to a really late showing and I can just sleep through it... Or call one of her girlfriends and tell them to invite her for a girls night out!!!

  2. B says:

    Try telling her it's almost two hours long. Depending on how pregnant she is, that might be too long for her to sit in one place.

  3. Neil says:

    Go with the girls night out. It'll give you an opportunity to hang out with your friends or see a movie that she'd rather not see.

  4. Dave Melbourne says:

    Uhhhhh...Lemme see...Real tough decision here, guys..I say "Needles in my eyes" before I ever go check out this movie. But I gotta admit, Katherine Heigl looks pretty sweet....Ahhhhh...Who am I kidding? Can't do it. Won't do it. "Needles in my eyes."

  5. Angela says:

    It's really not that bad. The main reason Kevin hangs around Jane is not to fix her, but to move his career forward. (That's not a spoiler, it's revealed early on.) Jane's a caretaker and has been since childhood. Her strength is revealed in the way she puts everyone else's needs (including the incredibly obnoxious sister) ahead of her own. Her learning how to re-direct that strength into her own life is the story. I agree that the sister thing is overdone on occasion, but I still liked it.

  6. Katie says:

    I totally agree with Angela's response.(#5) I enjoy reading Eric's reviews, because I usually agree with what he has to say- except for when it comes to romantic comedies, where he is almost always wrong... at least where I am concerned :). I recognize that I liked this movie simply because I am an emotional girl, but there are a lot of emotional girls out there and I want to let them know that they will probably also like this movie! I loved Katherine Heigl's character, and I definitely rooted for her and sympathized with her. What girl hasn't said "yes" when she should have said "no" or suffered as she watched her secret crush fall in love with someone else? Who doesn't want to see that girl be pursued by a ridiculously unrealistically wonderful boy? I thought it was great!

  7. Ms. X says:

    While this movie does, infact, stick to the romantic comedy formula like a LEECH (girls sees boy, hates him, starts to love hims, gets mad, then makes up)

    and is silly with over-used scenarios (Marsden: was this everythng you wanted? Heigel: No. It was MORE!) this movie is mildly entertaining to those of the female persuasion, oddly enough, and is worth a see if you have NOTHING better to see. Just be sure MR. X does not come, for you may be able to heard his brain cells die as flowers and happiness and color infultrate into his psyche, and that will just be distracting.

  8. Amp says:

    I resent that people think all girls like romantic comedies. I am a girl, and I think they're all trite and nauseating. I can't stand them.

  9. Leah Jane says:

    I agree with #8, Amp. I'm a girl, and romantic comedies are my least favorite movie genre. I don't mind a sweet romantic story, but they're rarely executed properly.

  10. Katie says:

    Amp #8: I guess I didn't explain myself very well. When I said that emotional girls will like the movie, I was not trying to imply that ALL girls will like the movie -just emotional ones. I guess that's not the best adjective. But if you're a girl that normally likes romantic comedies, you will probably like this one.

  11. Bryce says:

    27 Dresses was really good. You must be retarted because this is Katherine Higel best movie she has ever made and Knock Up.

    No one reads your stupid revies, that don't care, they think your a Brat, Jerk, and Definily Dumb.

  12. TashaKay says:

    Nothing like name-calling and 12 errors in three "sentences" to really put your incoherent point across.

  13. Snow says:

    My Saturday night started with Cloverfield and ended with 27 dresses when my girlfriend got sick watching the former. I got sick watching the latter.

    Seriously--not THAT bad, but when compared with the Gold Standard of romantic comedies (i.e., How to Lose a Guy...), it just didn't measure up.

  14. Marty says:

    Uh oh ... Did the horse girl change her name to Bryce?

  15. ClobberGirl says:

    Wow, "retarted," that's a new one for me. Always eager to expand my vocabulary, I tried to look it up in a dictionary but could find no entry for "retarted."

    I did find an entry for "tart," which read, "a prostitute or promiscuous woman." Deductively a "retart" must be "a former prostitute or promiscuous woman who returns to her past profession" and "retarted" must be "the state of being a former prostitute or promiscuous woman who returns to her past profession."

    I'm not sure how giving some chick flick a poor review automatically makes one retarted, but I can't express how grateful I am that Bryce dropped by to teach us this new word. Thank Bryce!

  16. Anna says:

    #10, I have to disagree with you. I usually LOVE romantic comedies - and although there were some funny/cute parts (benny and the jets) - I didn't really like this one. It was way too much!!

  17. Amp says:

    ClobberGirl, you're funny.

  18. Rachel says:

    I agree with #5 and #6; I usually agree with Eric's reviews except for those on romantic comedies. But, that is sort of what I'd expect -- 27 Dresses is a total chick flick. I absolutely loved this movie, probably because I can totally relate to Jane. A lot of her reactions were almost exactly how I would react in the same situation.

    The movie was light without being stupid. "Bennie and the Jets" was sooo great, and the sister-sister dynamic was portrayed really well.

  19. Abby says:

    I think Eric tends to pan romantic comedies because he's an old school Provo misogynist from way back. A quiet girl trying to find her voice is annoying and an outgoing girl needs to shut up. I'm guessing.

  20. Kourtney says:

    This movie tried very hard to appeal to young women who a) have a sister b) have been a bridesmaid and c) think James Marsden is adorable. I happen to meet all three requirements, but unfortunately it wasn't enough. The horribly forced sister moments between Katherine Heigl and Thin Blondie left me frustrated, mainly because they took away from the fun bridesmaid antics and JM's time to be adorable. My favorite part was when the funny best friend gave Jane a well-deserved stop-being-so-lame slap early in the movie. Too bad it didn't work.

  21. Sarah says:

    I have no idea what your talking about 27 dresses IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!! IF YOU THINK ITS STUPID THAT PROBABLY BECAUSE YOU NEVER WATCHED A GOOD MOVIE~~~ IT IS WORTH WATCHING DON'T LISTEN TO ALL THOUGHT FREAKS!

  22. Val says:

    I'm really sad that Eric disliked 27 Dresses this much. It was definitely formulaic and I knew how it would end within the first 20 minutes, but I think the reason why it worked was all Katherine Heigl. Yeah, she wasn't funny, but her charisma and chemistry with James Marsden carried this movie and I found some genuine and touching moments here and there, even with the sister. However, I wouldn't expect any movie that's all about wedding planning to be a big hit among the male set, so I'll get over the low grade.

  23. Al Pacino says:

    OK, yes I am forced to agree this movie wasn't good, as much as I adore Katherine Heigl. Her spinelessness pissed me off sooo bad, why couldn't she just slap her sister!?!?!?!?! arggh.

    Anyways, the only thing is the Jane & Kevin drunk singing of "Benny and the Jets" rules my world.

    "She's got electric boobs, you'll love her shoes....BUHBUHBUHBENNY AND THE JETS!"

  24. ThatOneGal says:

    I have to say that I’m skeptical about this movie. At times, I laughed and loved it, but it got old after a while. I was sick of watching Jane fake that she was all right and that she didn’t care if her sister got married to her boss.

    Yes, everyone that posted before me, Eric is a jerk, and you have to learn to deal with it. He likes tearing other people down, because his life is too pathetic to put into words.

    So, with that said, chau!

  25. Lulu says:

    Chau? Yeah, I don't think that's a real word.

  26. ThatOneGal says:

    Lulu, dear, it's not. Arrivederci!

  27. Erik says:

    My wife started watching this movie while I was reading the book. I ended up putting down the book and watching the movie! I'm as shocked as you are. It's not "the Godfather" but it's fun and I definitely was rooting for Jane. I thought that Heigl was dour but not necessarily lifeless, just reserved, as here character is supposed to be. The scene where she tries on all the dresses is very funny. And you can't say that scene is cliche because it's the first movie I've ever heard of where a girl owns 27 bridesmaid's dresses. The Benny and the Jets scene is also funny.

    You don't miss very often with me Mr. Snider. Keep up the good work!

  28. Is says:

    Ah... #11...funny stuff.

    Right, well, I'm one of those romatic comedy fangirls [who is sadly quite behind release dates] and I liked this one [SHOCKING.].

    It follows usual romantic comedy standards- 'Aw. This dude doesn't love me back.' *meets stranger* *hates stranger* *stranger hates back* *emotional occurence usually involving sex* *falls in love with stranger* *conflict with stranger involving the unrequited love* *runs into stranger's arms*- and...that's exactly why I like it.

    I mean, it's a pretty poor film, but it's not something I like for quality. I'm perfectly fine with utterly bashing and insulting it-no less than it deserves, really-but then I still like it. Sad. Very sad.

  29. Tim says:

    "...hoping it would be 1/2 way decent."

    Dude, it's a romantic comedy written by a woman and directed by a woman. There's no way this was ever going to be "1/2 way decent".

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