Romantic comedy manages to be better than one might expect
by Hawkins Teague
Jan 30, 2008 | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“27 Dresses”

** 1/2

I’ve never liked the term, “chick flick.” It’s almost always meant to be derogatory and is mostly applied to romantic comedies, but is sometimes used to refer to a movie simply because its main character is a female.

This is offensive for a couple of reasons. In the first instance, it implies that men have no interest whatsoever in romance. While it is true that many guys have more (or at least equal) interest in lust as opposed to love, we are (no, really) capable of deeper feelings. But the most offensive thing about the “chick flick” label is the idea that men are incapable of showing any interest in a movie simply because its protagonist is female. Some movies, like 2001’s “Ghost World,” for example, manage to escape this trap, but they probably the exception.

On the other hand, there are some movies that just can’t be labeled anything but “chick flicks.” They tend to be the most clichéd romantic comedies. You know, the ones where some down-her-luck pretty girl just can’t find the right guy, and who spends most of her time fantasizing about the perfect wedding. Typically, when the girl does find the right man, she hates him at first and it takes her most of the movie to figure out that he’s right for her. These movies also usually involve some wisecracking best friend, some kind of musical montage, a very public declaration of love and, perhaps, a sing-along.

“27 Dresses,” starring Katherine Heigl of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Knocked Up” fame, fits that mold to a T, but it is far better than it has any right to be. This is not due to its unoriginal story, but entirely because of its cast.

OK, I’ll give a quick summary of the premise, although you can almost guess what it is by the title if you know that it involves weddings. Heigl plays Jane, who has is the proverbial “always a bridesmaid, never the bride.” She has been in 27 weddings, and has 27 horrifying dresses in her cramped closet to prove it. I know, I know. All bridesmaids’ dresses are ugly because they’re supposed to make the bride look prettiest on her special day. Actually, I don’t know if that s really supposed to be true, or simply repeated all the time because it just seems true.

But, seriously, these dresses are hideous. This concept really stretches the credibility of the script, even when considering that it is a chick flick. Some of them are just ugly and some of them are ethnic, but many of them are for theme weddings. Honestly, if you’ve been in 27 weddings and more half of them were theme weddings, like “punk” or “underwater scuba-diving,” it is definitely time to get some new, sane friends.

So Jane is in love with her boss (Ed Burns), but can’t tell him how she feels. Then her younger sister (Malin Akerman, almost too believable as a bimbo) comes to town and ruins everything. Before Jane knows it, they’re engaged. Meanwhile, a wedding reporter (James Mardsen) shows up to cover the wedding for his paper. Jane has already met him and can’t stand him because of how cynical he is. Of course, it turns out that she has all his clippings saved in a scrapbook and that he turns out to be a softie at heart.

Anyway, the movie manages to be much less torturous than it sounds because the cast almost makes you forget how bad the material is. Heigl is always pretty likable and is blessed with great comic timing. Mardsen is also very enjoyable, as is Judy Greer as the irreverent best friend. But I must warn you: even with a montage of Heigl modeling the dresses, it gets far more groan-inducing by the big reveal shot at the happy ending. You are hereby warned.

Oh, yeah, and the public declaration of love? It’s there, and it couldn’t be much worse. I mean, maybe fans of these types of movies like junk like that, but it seems to me that this major flaw could have been easily eliminated simply by having Heigl stepping off the stage for her big scene after she locates Mardsen by calling his name over a microphone at a wedding party he’s covering. I guess that wouldn’t have been pandering hard enough, though.

Should I be giving this movie two-and-a-half stars (which is actually pretty favorable considering what we’re dealing with)? Probably not. Would I have gone if I hadn’t promised my girlfriend I would take her? Most definitely not. But I’ve seen far worse and I can’t deny that parts of it made actually me laugh and almost made me forget that I wasn’t supposed to be enjoying myself. How’s that for a half-hearted recommendation?

Rated PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned.
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