Always the Bridesmaid Never the Bride
Romantic comedies are 10 a penny these days and the majority of them follow the same well worn formula. Not that this is a bad thing as long as amongst all the predictable fluff there are strong, likeable characters and something slightly unique to make it feel different. Sadly in the case of "27 Dresses" starring Katherine Heigl, it lacks both those strong characters and a little bit of uniqueness to make it stand out from a bulging crowd. "27 Dresses" is not a terrible movie by any means of the word and has some charm but for the most it's pretty standard stuff which as it weaves its way through a formula and some stock scenes is instantly forgettable.
Ever since her childhood, Jane (Katherine Heigl - Knocked Up) has been in love with weddings and now having been a bridesmaid a staggering 27 times has the unfortunate job of being bridesmaid a 28th time for her younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman - The Heartbreak Kid). The trouble is, is that Jane secretly fancies Tess's husband to be who also happens to be her boss who she does everything for without question. To make matters worse, newspaper columnist Kevin (James Marsden - Hairspray) has picked up on Jane's habit of always saying yes to being a bridesmaid and plans to write an article about her.
"27 Dresses" is pretty much what you expect from a romantic-comedy and director Anne Fletcher doesn't do badly making it that glossy, bubbly and colourful parade of set pieces that appeal to fans of these sorts of movies. But the trouble is it lacks originality and Aline Brosh McKennna's screenplay seems to play it very safe, lacking an edge to make it feel fresh and unique. From the opening flash back sequence where we learn of Jane's early fascination with weddings, through Jane hopping between two weddings on the same night and the very contrived sing-a-long in a bar scene it's all territory which has been done before even though to some extent it works. But nothing is added and at times it feels like an amalgamation of someone's favourite scenes from various other romantic comedies merged into this one movie.
As romantic-comedies go "27 Dresses" follows that well worn route of boy meets girl who don't get on, then come together only to fall out over something one forgot to mention only to make it up again before the "they all lived happily ever after" ending. Even the attempt to spice this up with a love triangle between sisters and a boss adds nothing especially new to the formula and I can think of several other movies which have combined these elements. As with a lot of romantic comedies the trouble is that the balance is wrong and the movie spends so much time with Jane and Kevin at odds with each other that although all the signs are there as to what will happen when they do get together it feels rushed and contrived. It also doesn't help that both Jane and Kevin have their individual storylines, Jane's affections for her boss and Kevin's desire to be a serious writer that they actually distract from the main storyline.
Add to this that the pacing of "27 Dresses" feels slightly off. In the scenes where Jane is flitting between weddings or doing an adhoc parade of all her wedding dresses the editing isn't snappy and this happens a lot through out the movie. What this means is that at times "27 Dresses" lingers too long on certain scenes and causes a movie which at 111 minutes to feel slightly dragged out. It also has the negative effect of making the humour, which is often highly telegraphed, to fail in making you laugh. Yes I smiled but nothing raised even a giggle as I watched familiar comedy moments played out over and over again.
Things don't get much better when you look at the characters as again these feel like an amalgamation of someone's favourite stereotypes from the younger more attractive, fun loving sister, to the older handsome boss and the best friend who is typically extremely supportive. They all feel too familiar and thanks to the lack of character building they all, including the main characters, feel very 2 dimensional. You don't need huge character depth but just enough to make you feel something for the characters and sadly "27 Dresses" doesn't achieve this.
As for the performances well Katherine Heigl as Jane is typically nice, in many ways likeable but ultimately bland. In the scenes where she has to be uptight, Heigl is brilliant but the moment she has too soften, to become more romantic there is something missing and becomes unbelievable as someone in love. It also doesn't help that for the most her comic timing is not there, the jokes fall slightly flat because her delivery feels too manufactured and scripted. Opposite Heigl is James Marsden, who having watched in "X Men" playing Cyclops takes some getting use to without his protective glasses. Honestly though Marsden does a believable job as the cynical charmer with a fine line in sarcasm, I actually liked him which is rather strange. But the chemistry between Heigl and Marsden is not there and that causes all those scenes which should get you feeling all mushy to fail and be nothing more than 2 actors going through their paces.
As for Malin Akerman as the fun loving and beautiful Tess, well she looks perfect for the role and even the huge amount of make-up seems right. But the character again suffers from never being developed so just comes over as another stereotype used in another cliché storyline. The same can be said for Edward Burns as George and Judy Greer who is underused as best friend Casey, stereotypical characters.
What this all boils down to is that "27 Dresses" is not a bad movie, it's just disappointing because it never strays from being routine. The storyline is predictable, the characters are stereotypes and the comedy is too obvious and contrived leaving it feeling distinctly average. It means that "27 Dresses" is enjoyable but unmemorable and just becomes another run of the mill romantic-comedy rather than something witty, clever and genuinely romantic.