Sullying Weddings Across the Globe
Main Cast: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Edward Burns
Director: Anne Fletcher
27 Dresses begins with a wedding. Actually, more than one. You see, Jane (Katherine Heigl) loves weddings. She’s in them constantly and is known to all her friends as the go-to person when it’s time for nuptial planning. She’ll do anything people ask of her for their big day and they love her for it. But Jane, for all her good hearted generosity, really just yearns for her own wedding. She’s desperately in love with her boss, but can’t possibly tell him and waits in the wings while the rest of the world seems to find true love around her. Even her horrid sister gets to plan a wedding!
Did you throw up a little there? Yeah, I know – the whole premise kind of makes me gag. But Katherine Heigl is cute and James Marsden shows up as a reporter who covers the “wedding beat”. He’s cute, too. Edward Burns being cast as the boss (another cute boy) doesn’t hurt. And you never know, sometimes sap turns out to be sweet instead of deathly sticky and cloying.
Well, not this time. Sorry Katherine, James and Edward (and Judy Greer who may be the only funny part of the movie), 27 Dresses sucks. It could not possibly be more predictable if they handed out the script to the audience beforehand. We know within the first fifteen minutes exactly how the movie will play out and this time there’s no fun in the journey.
Jane is a milquetoast of the highest order. Meek and compliant, wearing unflattering clothes and always trying to please, absolutely convinced that true love will find her and make her the happiest person alive. Not only do I despise the character, but nobody who looks like Katherine Heigl can really be successfully made drab. They try, but real people don’t look like her, I don’t care if they put her in a burlap sack. Jane’s entire outlook on life is based on a five-year-old child’s worldview. She isn’t looking for a husband or partner; she’s looking for a wedding and a “soul mate”. This character at no point makes us think that she has the ability to cope in a real relationship with a real person. She lives in a fantasy and her disappointments are of her own making. She’s a grown woman; I have little patience for her brand of self-delusion. And yes, I recognize that it’s just a movie, but does anyone really think this sort of crap doesn’t reinforce an already societally warped notion of what a relationship is?
I have to give the writers some credit for having the other characters try and beat some sense onto Jane’s thick skull. Judy Greer as her best friend spends quite a bit of the movie saying what the rest of us are thinking – that Jane should grow up, stop being a doormat and do something about her own situation rather than wait for the fates to intervene. Of course she is ignored and used only as comic relief. Edward Burns as the boss/love interest/heartbreaker is a suitably complex character. Complex in this situation meaning “more than a single facial expression, emotion or personality trait noted”. He doesn’t hurt Jane on purpose, how can he if he has no idea what she wants or expects from him? The same is true of Marsden as Kevin, potential love interest number two. He makes absolutely clear his intentions from word one yet Jane is too stupid and invested in her fantasy to look beyond it into the actual world.
The actors do what they can. There are a couple of cute scenes between Marsden and Heigl that work quite well – they have decent chemistry. Malin Ackerman as Jane’s sister does the Bridezilla thing with gusto and Judy Greer does get off some good one-liners. But they can’t make up for a story that makes me wish I had chosen to watch Catwoman. This movie is exactly the kind of pabulum that makes romantic comedies as a genre look horribly bad. I far prefer characters that have at least one toe in reality and don’t as grown adults think that Disney has a lock on the way real romance works.
27 Dresses is a throw-away film of the worst kind. Built on a house of cards that is one woman’s delusion about the perfect wedding, we’re supposed to invest in both her real life and her fantasy life. I just can’t do it. Jane sabotages herself time and again, lets people treat her badly and shuns those who do not and spends her time making herself indispensable to everyone but the people who actually like and care about her. Them, she treats like crap. I don’t like Jane, I don’t like the delusional world she lives in, I don’t like the execution of the basic premise and I don’t like what the movie has to say about how and why and when a person should, could and can find a mate. 27 Dresses is everything that’s wrong with the romantic comedy genre. 1 star – avoid it like the plague.