A highly predictable rom-com, “27 Dresses” manages to cover every wedding film cliche in the canon, and does so without yielding any genuine laughs. Leads Katherine Heigl and James Marsden are solid performers and share a surprisingly good chemistry, but they’re the only thing of note in this otherwise bright and cheery celebration of tedium.
The failure here comes as a surprise considering scribe Alice Brosh McKenna penned 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada” and Heigl is coming off of last year’s “Knocked Up” – two admittedly over hyped but nonetheless far smarter, wittier and more original romantic comedy efforts than this. ‘Dresses’ sticks to formula like white on rice, never straying into any new or exciting territory whatsoever, so its often lacking a pulse despite the zippy editing and frequent wardrobe changes.
‘Dresses’ has earned the nickname ‘white-lace porn’ in some circles for its unabashed adoration of the chick-flick field. The heroine is a put-upon singleton who’s seen all her friends married but can’t quite find the right guy. The hero is a roguishly handsome bachelor who’s never been tied down yet, and despite his bravado he secretly longs for commitment.
Along the way there’s lots of clothing and wedding talk, cringe-inducing drunken karaoke, and an honest mistake that separates the two before bringing them back together in a big public place with a heartfelt speech. It’s tailor made to make both soon-to-wed and newlywed couples feel good, and all the rest of us single, gay, lesbian, divorced, etc. types feel ashamed for not desiring the supposed wonders of monogamy and marriage.
What does overcome the material is the cast. Heigl is smart, bright, attractive, very likeable and surprisingly adept at comic timing. Despite being still a relative newcomer, she handles the weight on her shoulders like a pro but without the attitude that comes with so many young starlets.
James Marsden displays his slightly goofy charisma and whilst not as engaging or unabashedly funny as he was in the recent “Enchanted”, nonetheless serves his part well in spite of a touch too much smugness. Judy Greer steals her few scenes as the typical wise-cracking friend whilst Ed Burns has a few scant lines but seems far more comfortable in this genre than the action/thriller arena he seems desperate to break into.
Admittedly fans of romantic comedies aren’t exactly known for demanding originality, but something this bland can only appeal to the most hardcore fan who knows what there in for and actually demands it sticks to the script – brides to be will certainly be getting this DVD out with regularity leading up to their day at the altar.
I enjoy efforts in this field more than the average guy I know, but even I found it tedious and lacking both spark and wit. It’s pure guilty pleasure food – perfectly satisfying for those who are specifically after it but rather bland and unfulfilling for everyone else. Shame really, as being formulaic doesn’t have to mean being so devoid of emotion or creativity.