Who ya gonna call to help plan a fabulous wedding? If you have a friend like Jane, the character played by Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, she should be at the top of your list. Jane will neglect her own personal life to assist with your nuptials. After all, she owns a closet-full of hideous bridesmaid dresses to prove it! Fortunately, a crisis involving her sister’s wedding and a confrontation with a cynical journalist finally force Jane to examine why she always ends up as a bridesmaid instead of the bride. Watching Heigl navigate this comedy obstacle course -- and with perfect timing -- offers most of the fun here. But the wonderful James Marsden gives Heigl a run for her money by delivering a terrific performance as an ambitious writer who hates weddings.
Truth be told, Marsden’s (Hairspray) character may be onto something. Elaborate weddings take their emotional and financial toll on everyone concerned. Who hasn’t laughed at a “Bridezilla” joke? And does any bridesmaid ever take seriously the bride’s comment, “You can shorten that dress and wear it after the wedding”? When Kevin (Marsden) and Jane (Heigl) argue passionately about this subject, we start to believe it’s impossible for them to get together as a romantic couple. Not to worry! Their chemistry sizzles after they become tipsy in a crowded bar and perform an amusing rendition of a popular song while the customers cheer them on. (I simply love Marsden in musical numbers -- more please!) But things soon look bleak again for Kevin, who’s obviously smitten with Jane, when she finds out he’s been using her to get a sensational wedding story for his newspaper.
Meanwhile, Jane must deal with her younger sister Tess (the very sexy Malin Akerman from The Heartbreak Kid). Tess plans to marry a man (Edward Burns) Jane has worked for and been infatuated with for a long time. Trying to suppress her jealousy and satisfy all of Tess’ demands about the wedding at the same time, Jane walks a dangerous tightrope. When she tumbles, she falls hard. As difficult as it is to accept the changes in Jane’s character, Heigl (Knocked Up) makes believers of us. Yes, she’s very funny when registering surprise or taking a pratfall or two, but this talented actress is even more convincing in a dramatic scene where Jane ambushes Tess with a barrage of complaints she’s been bottling up inside her.
27 Dresses may not be the best romantic comedy ever filmed -- and a couple of situations strain credulity almost to the breaking point -- but it boasts extremely watchable performances by its likable co-stars. The movie also moves along at a spirited pace, thanks to Anne Fletcher’s (Step Up) smart direction and Aline Brosh McKenna’s (The Devil Wears Prada) sparkling screenplay.
Okay. I know what all you incurable romantics out there really want to know: does the film have a happy ending? Yes -- even for those 27 dresses.
(Released by Fox 2000 Pictures and rated “PG-13” for language, some innuendo and sexuality.)