It would seem to be pure folly to base an entire movie on a cliché, especially one as constricting and limiting as “always a bridesmaid, never a bride”; but somehow 27 Dresses manages to rise above its banal basic premise to become a rather entertaining romantic comedy.
Yes, it is riddled with predictability, and yes, anyone who has ever seen a romantic comedy in the past will be able to foresee every single plot “twist” well before it comes up. However, thanks to strong performances by Katherine Heigl and James Marsden, the end result is not as bad as you might expect.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Heigl stars as Jane Nichols,a 20-something who has been looking forward to her wedding day since she was a little girl. Jane has plenty of experience with planning weddings, as she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times. However, she’s never been close to walking down the aisle as the bride — especially since her boss George (played by Edward Burns), the man she’s in love with, hasn’t noticed her years of pining for him.
One night, Jane juggles two simultaneous bridesmaid commitments by hiring a cab for the evening and shuttling back and forth between the two ceremonies, changing dresses on the ride. After being trampled during the bouquet-tossing portion of one ceremony, Jane catches the attention of Kevin Doyle (Marsden), a guest at the wedding. Doyle is a writer for the Commitments column of a major New York City Newspaper, one that carries a different byline (to ward off stalkers) and that Jane reads religiously. Kevin helps a woozy Jane back home, and then notices that she left her planner in the cab they shared. He picks it up and reads it.
When Kevin sees all of the weddings Jane must attend, he forms an idea for a story that will help get him off the Commitments page and covering real news. He’s going to write a feature about Jane, taking the angle that she must be a pretty pathetic person to be a bridesmaid 27 times. But as he’s researching the story, Kevin finds himself falling for Jane. Jane, too, feels a connection with Kevin, particularly since her sister Tess (Malin Akerman) came into town and “stole” George away.
The rest of the film then deals with Jane and Kevin’s blossoming relationship, the betrayal Jane feels after reading Kevin’s story about her, their ultimate reconciliation, and of course, their wedding when Jane finally gets to walk down the aisle as bride.
My Reaction: I know this wasn’t classic cinema or anything like that, but 27 Dresses was definitely entertaining enough to excuse the predictability factor that I mentioned above. All of the credit for this goes to Heigl and Marsden, who were not only good on their own, but also had tremendous onscreen chemistry as a couple — a crucial element that seems to be missing from a lot of rom-coms these days. After all, if viewers don’t believe the two main characters belong together, what’s the point?
I’ve been watching Heigl for four years as Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy, and have long felt that she’s one of the better actors on the show. Sure, her character is annoying as hell sometimes, but Heigl sells just about every scene she’s in, so she’s enjoyable to watch. I think she does a great job in romantic comedies as well (like this one and Knocked Up), and predict that she won’t last on GA for much longer, as she’ll likely make a full-time jump to the silver screen soon.
Anyway, Heigl was a terrific choice to play Jane Nichols, bringing a perfect balance of sincerity and romanticism to the part. She wasn’t cloying or overly sweet in her many onscreen defenses of love, marriage, and weddings, which is something that would have doomed the film for me.
I thought Marsden was excellent as Kevin Doyle, and feel that being a rom-com lead is right up his alley. I recently saw his work in 10th & Wolf, but had a hard time buying his portrayal of a Philly tough guy. He was much more genuine as the cynical writer with a romantic streak of his own in 27 Dresses. Plus, he’s funny and easy on the eyes, which is a great combination for these types of films.
Overall, 27 Dresses doesn’t have much of a plot going for it, but it definitely provides a fun time thanks to Heigl and Marsden’s work. I give the film 3 stars out of 5 and recommend that you check it out the next time you’re in the mood for some light entertainment.