Like the variety of overly-frilled bridesmaid dresses jostling for space in Jane’s (Katherine Heigl) closet, “27 Dresses” takes its place among the multitudes of cheesy romantic comedies geared at girly teenagers and their unfortunate boyfriends.
The movie is exactly what you would expect from the title, and from the cast: Heigl, of “Knocked Up” fame, and James Marsden, who recently graced the big screen in the preteen hit “Enchanted.”
The shallow plot centers upon the romantic dreams of Jane, who is unable to say no to anyone, and in the first scene dashes between two of her friends’ weddings which occur on the same night. She is followed home by an endearing Kevin (James Marsden) who openly scorns her marriage-filled dreams, his biting cynicism challenging the sacred institution to which Jane so dearly clings.
The character typecasts that propel the movie are frustrating at best. Jane is such a pushover that it is sickeningly irritating, as she stands by and allows a romance to unfold between her bubbly blonde sister Tess (Malin Ackerman) and boss George (Ed Burns), with whom she has been in love for years. Jane is reminiscent of Anne Hathaway’s Ella in “Ella Enchanted,” a princess who is under a magical curse to be obedient and is never allowed to say no.
Casey (Judy Greer) provides comic relief as the bitch-of-a-friend who you can’t believe would ever really pal around with Jane. One of the most memorable scenes occurs during a yoga class where Casey tells Jane, “You can’t possibly plan your sister’s wedding to the man you are in love with.” Casey is then scolded by the instructor, to whom she responds, “There isn’t a sign saying no talking!” Casey lends sporadic bursts of refreshing reality to an overly romanticized film in which everyone’s head seems stuck in the clouds.
The movie flows easily, and to its credit diverges slightly from the standard, cookie-cutter romantic comedy, as Jane transforms from a pushover to the bad guy. During Tess and George’s engagement party, Jane plays a slide show revealing Tess’ true character. Jane includes a picture of Tess devouring a plate of ribs, to which a bewildered vegetarian George responds, “I thought you didn’t eat meat.” Yet Jane is left feeling far from triumphant as the engagement is quickly called off, and the ever-present realist Casey sighs, “Something is wrong. And if I say something is wrong, it’s really wrong.” Jane is then left to discover the difference between standing up for herself and hurting others.
There are some hilarious nuptial moments as the film strives to cast light upon the marriage industry and culminates in a hilarious scene wherein each of Jane’s 27 bride-friends are present, each wearing one of their sickeningly hideous bridesmaid gowns into which Jane was forced at the beginning.
The only attempt at a serious plot comes in the interactions between Kevin and Jane. Kevin, a columnist who writes about romance without believing in it, reveals that his cynicism comes from having been left by his wife. The two frequently psychoanalyze each other, Kevin declaring at one point to Jane, “You don’t want a marriage; you want a wedding.”
Overall, the film is entertaining but forgettable, as fluffy and sweet as the frosting on the wedding cake. It is an uplifting piece worthy of a few laughs and the pleasure of seeing the dashing Marsden onscreen, but little more.