After playing the dashing knight who doesn’t get Amy Adams’s princess in Enchanted, James Marsden finally nabs a leading lady in 27 Dresses, a romantic comedy that, like Enchanted, concerns the efforts of a beautiful woman to secure a happily-ever-after with accompanying Prince Charming. In this case, it’s Jane (Katherine Heigl), a bridesmaid who’s played matrimonial second fiddle 27 times while hopelessly pining for her hunky boss George (Ed Burns). Jane’s desire to concentrate on other people’s happiness at the expense of her own apparently stems from her mother’s early death, which forced her to become caregiver for younger sis Tess (Malin Åkerman). Yet as dramatized by Anne Fletcher’s film, Jane’s behavior seems born not from childhood issues but, instead, from a screenwriter’s desire for a cutesy premise that can end with some neat and tidy “sisters are doing it for themselves” empowerment. Jane’s life becomes complicated when Tess arrives for a visit and immediately sweeps George off his feet, leading to an impromptu wedding that Jane has to plan, as well as the continued romantic entreaties of a wedding-averse cynic named Kevin (Marsden) who, it turns out, is also Jane’s favorite writer of newspaper wedding stories. Heigl’s obvious charm and intelligence undercut Jane’s often pitiful refusal to stand up for herself, a contrast that regularly reveals the seams of the contrived conceits lying just beneath the film’s cheery surface. The Grey’s Anatomy star and Marsden exhibit a credible chemistry, especially during bouts of bickering that boast a back-and-forth far more genuine than the corny centerpiece sequence involving a wrong-lyrics sing-a-long to “Benny and the Jets” at a country bar. Their rapport, however, doesn’t alter the fact that 27 Dresses is ultimately nothing more than a slightly above-average rom-com whose gears and wheels turn with predictable precision, and whose supposed feminism—however more developed than that of Knocked Up, whose portrait of women Heigl publicly decried—never gets past advocating a woman’s right to literally chase after her dreamboat to ensure the attainment of her own perfect moment at the altar.
- Anne Fletcher
- Aline Brosh McKenna
- Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Ed Burns, Malin Åkerman, Judy Greer, Melora Hardin, Brian Kerwin, Maulik Pancholy
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