Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A hapless heroine is unlucky in love until she learns to assert herself and finds the man of her dreams. That’s the basic plot of 27 Dresses, new on DVD today, which squanders Katherine Heigl’s budding b.o. clout by wedging her into a painfully formulaic romantic comedy.
Heigl plays Jane — as in “plain” — who, naturally, isn’t blond. Rather, she’s a dutiful brunette assistant to a bland, clueless boss (the ever-dull Edward Burns). She also applies that sense of duty to her friends’ weddings, from which she’s amassed 27 wretched bridesmaid gowns. As they say, always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
One problem about those 27 friends’ weddings: Jane has no friends. Well, one — played by Judy Greer. But where are those 27 close friends for whom Jane did above-and-beyond double duty as a wedding planner? No one knows. Just take the script’s word for it.
When Jane meets a handsome newspaper reporter (James Marsden) who writes warm stories about weddings for the New York Journal (the Big Apple being another of the film’s cliches) despite his cheeky irreverence and desire to be another Bob Woodward, it’s clear that they’re made for each other. After all, they don’t hit it off — at least on the surface. This gives them an alleged “arc” to play. But though I knew the ending at the start, I tried to settle in for romantic comedy fun and charm.
I didn’t get it. Instead, I got wretched writing, childish fits by grown people, witless about-face redefinition of characters (Jane’s sister is a monster — no, she’s sweet) preposterous situations and two grandstanding public pronouncements via microphones from a woman who can’t bring herself to hint to her boss of years, with just a word or a whisper, that she kinda likes him.
Oh, and everyone beyond Heigl eventually assumes the collective “friend” role that’s so gallingly banal in movies: where all that matters to the friend is the protagonist and their love life. The collective “friend” even includes a just-married bride at her elaborate shipboard wedding reception — a bride who doesn’t even know Jane, yet yields her big night’s spotlight to a stranger and her romance! And everyone at the reception loves the idea! Riiiiight.
I’ll stop here. It just gets too painful. And don’t get me wrong: I love romantic comedies and chick flicks in general. I just don’t love this one, which could be called 27 Cliches if that weren’t such a gross understatement.