The only surprise in the entirety of 27 Dresses is that someone actually wrote this film. Sure, the trailers were emblazoned with the fact that it was scripted by Aline Brosh McKenna of The Devil Wears Prada (2006) fame, but I don’t care if she wrote Citizen Kane. In this day and age, there is no reason for a picture to be as willfully formulaic and color-by-numbers as 27 Dresses. Every romantic-comedy convention is utilized with absolutely no attempt at doing anything new.
Katherine Heigl plays Jane, a woman who’s been obsessed with weddings her whole life, yet has never had her own. In fact, she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times, and has every dress to prove it (except one of the dresses is a suit, so really the title is a misnomer). Her situation is only compounded by her secret love for her boss, George (Ed Burns, doing his best Richard Gere impersonation), who we’re told is a really amazing person, but comes off as more dull and droll. But hey, it’s Ed Burns, so we’re lucky we even get droll out of him. Anyway, Jane also has a sister, Tess (Malin Akerman, The Heartbreak Kid), who immediately falls in love with George, steals him away, and gets engaged. Unfortunately for Jane, she’s forced to plan the duo’s wedding, and we get to see all the faux romcom heartbreak that goes along with a woman planning the wedding of the man she’s in love with.
Of course, not all is lost, as Jane meets—in only the cutest of fashions—Kevin (James Marsden). Shockingly enough, Kevin has the exact opposite view of marriage as Jane. Not only that, but unbeknownst to Jane, Kevin is writing a story about her for the Sunday paper on all her forays into the world of being a bridesmaid. Will this seemingly innocuous little secret come up at the most inopportune time, just after Jane and Kevin forget all their seemingly impossible differences and have fallen for one another, only to create complications that are resolved in the last reel for one nice, tidy happy ending? Of course! For whatever reason, McKenna and director Anne Fletcher (Step Up) think that you can’t have a proper blue-blooded romantic comedy without all the clichés. You even get the snarky, crass best friend (Judy Greer, The Village) to make sure you get the most out of your moviegoing buck.
The film spends the majority of its running time making a case against the institution of marriage, from the phony spectacle that, for some, is all that’s wanted, to the extraneous consumerism. Being the movie it is, however, all this gets thrown out the window by the last scene, concluding that marriage isn’t so bad after all—or at the very least, it’s good enough. There are some occasional flashes of chemistry between Heigl and Marsden, but these flickers are lost inside an ocean of generic good-looking, pseudo-stylish 20-somethings spouting sitcom dialogue and doing “hip” things like starting sing-a-longs to “Bennie and the Jets” in dive bars. The whole movie is a phony take on love and romance, complete with all the recycled conventions you’ve come to know. It sacrifices even the slightest modicum of risk taking in order to be the most generic romantic comedy imaginable. I’m sure it’ll be a hit. Rated PG-13 for language, some innuendo and sexuality.