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27 Dresses the Ultimate Romantic Comedy

Published January 17, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox.
27 Dresses Poster 27 Dresses
27 Dresses is the ultimate romantic comedy. If you can appreciate how they packed every romantic comedy cliché into one story, and did it with a full commitment of sincerity, that's how you should appreciate 27 Dresses.

Review: 27 Dresses

It's a female Wedding Crashers. Where men may mess with the institution of marriage, this film deals with the female issue of being a bridesmaid. Like Crashers, it's not cynical about it, just having fun with it.

The idea of having two weddings in one night is cute, and totally preposterous. Why would two women in a similar social circle ever want to compete with each other? But you get to see Katherine Heigl bounce back and forth, and change in the back of a cab, so it's cute.

She's Jane, and she actually loves being a bridesmaid and never resents that she hasn't found "the one" yet. She's holding out for her boss George (Ed Burns), but before he's even introduced, she meets Kevin (James Marsden), the wedding cynic who she hates so you know how that's going to go. I mean, she doesn't even know that he's the guy writing her favorite wedding announcements, AND he's doing an article about HER, so that's bound to work out well.

George doesn't realize that Jane is going way above and beyond the attention a normal assistant would give. Then her sister Tess (Malin Akerman) comes to town and steals George right away, but the supportive bridesmaid helps her plan her wedding anyway, all the while resisting Kevin's manipulative attempts into her heart.

27 Dresses makes no apologies. Still, it never goes into the realm of contempt for the conventions of the genre. It goes right up to the point of enjoying the world in which it exists and having fun with all that's come before. The timeline is ridiculously fast and they juggle all these elements, not quite evenly but what romantic comedy does?

The film just takes away everything that matters to Jane. She's so persecuted. It really puts Bridget Jones's life in perspective. Everyone is manipulating everyone, because it's a romantic comedy, and here that kind of behavior is cute.

Oh, and of course she has to try on all 27 bridesmaid dresses on for Kevin. There has to be a clothing montage. And she dances in them too, because you have to dance in private like you think no one's watching. They make you wait for the wedding montage. It comes later in the film than you expect.

Katherine Heigl is more adorable than Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock combined. She does the cute frazzled chick routine like a pro, making it believable that she's shut herself off from potential love in a realistic way, never begging for sympathy. And she does pratfalls.

It's James Marsden's finest hour. He is having so much fun. It's like knowing he's going to get the girl just opens him up. He's using all the tricks that just makes Jane angrier, because he knows he'll be fine. He's not desperate, like the sappy Bill Pullman characters who inevitably get dumped. He's just confident that he can do anything he wants, because he's that guy in the romantic comedy.

Malin Akerman seems confident in her role too. She knows this is the totally oblivious, selfish bitch who can't even see she's breaking her sister's heart. It's like she knows she's just at that point in her blossoming career to play the crazy girl, and she's paying her dues with gusto.

Judy Greer is the perfect sarcastic friend. Instead of chiming in with non sequiturs, she makes you see how every little comment is actually relevant, and still funny. I've got to admit, it's hard to believe Burns as an admirable guy who gets manipulated by the sister. We know how he really feels about relationships, so that's a stretch.

It even ends with a "one year later" epilogue, in case you weren't sure how everything was going to work out for every single character. Normally, I would hate a movie like this. I'd resent the implications and condemn the values. This one actually found a way to play everything sweetly.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox.

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