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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Judy Greer, Edward Burns, Malin Akerman
DIRECTED BY
Anne Fletcher
SCREENPLAY
Aline Brosh McKenna
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
107 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
20th Century Fox
 "27 Dresses" Review 
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It is no secret that I am a minister.

As such, I am privileged to participate in a wide variety of important moments in people's lives including baptisms, funerals, major illnesses and, yes, weddings.

One of my favorite "jokes," if you will, is that I prefer serving at funerals more than weddings because I have more faith that the funerals are going to last.

In other words, I loved Kevin Doyle (James Marsden, "Hairspray" & "Enchanted") in "27 Dresses," the latest flick from director Anne Fletcher ("Step Up") and "The Devil Wears Prada" screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna.

Doyle is jaded and cynical towards weddings, a notable coincidence given that he also is a reporter who primarily covers wedding announcements for the New York Journal.

Jane (Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy" & "Knocked Up"), on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Jane has known since she was eight-years-old that she loved weddings and to prove it she has served as confidante, maid-of-honor and wedding organizer 27 times.

Jane has no regrets about any of it, however, until her little sister (Malin Ackerman, "The Heartbreak Kid") comes to town and ends up engaged to Jane's boss (Edward Burns, "One Missed Call"), whom Jane has secretly had a crush on for years.

Is "27 Dresses" formulaic? Absolutely.

Does "27 Dresses" offer anything new to the romantic comedy genre? Not in the least, especially disappointing given Aline Brosh McKenna's edgier work on last year's "The Devil Wears Prada."

Yet, despite its paint-by-numbers story and complete predictability, Katherine Heigl again proves herself quite the delightful leading lady and her comfortable chemistry with James Marsden, who finally gets the girl, helps "27 Dresses" transcend mediocrity and become a modestly entertaining, energetic, good-hearted and romantic date movie.

"27 Dresses" is both blessed and cursed with virtually every romantic comedy cliche', including the drunken sing-along, the "I hate you until we get drunk and have sex" act, the inevitable family/best friend conflict and, of course, the notion that love always works out in the end.

Heigl, whose most recent film romances have included unlikely pairings with Johnny Knoxville ("The Ringer") and Seth Rogen ("Knocked Up"), is the perfect romantic leading lady. Similarly to Amy Adams, Heigl has a certain "girl next door" quality about her and yet also happens to be beautiful and intelligent while exuding a sense of compassion about herself. She embodies Jane with a genuine heart of gold and, yet, enough emotional layers that Jane never feels like the "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" type. Heigl clearly has what it takes to be a romantic leading lady, but here's hoping she also starts holding out for better material.

While Marsden's range isn't quite that of Heigl, he again lights up the screen in much the same way he did in the recent "Hairspray" and "Enchanted." Only in the film's ultra-melodramatic final third does Marsden's performance weaken a bit, however, this is equally the fault of McKenna's script issues.

Akerman, who was over-the-top obnoxious as Ben Stiller's wife in the disappointing "The Heartbreak Kid," gives virtually the same performance here as a bratty and spoiled supermodel sister who deceives her way into the perfect relationship. So convincing is Akerman's bitchiness that even when Heigl's gives her an emotional bitchslap in the film's waning moments one can't help but think "Good, she got what she deserved."

Edward Burns does a nice job as Jane's boss, and Judy Greer again shows that she's mastered the art of playing the extremely loyal, completely sarcastic and sex-starved best friend.

Fletcher, a choreographer turned director, paces "27 Dresses" beautifully and dances her way through virtually every romantic cliche' with such sincerity that it's hard to begrudge such an incredibly basic film that still manages to entertain.

Sincere, romantic, funny and sweet, "27 Dresses" is a nice option for couples needing a mid-winter break from awards chasers and remnants from the Hollywood dumping grounds. If all you're looking for is a light, romantic evening on the town with the one you love then "27 Dresses" is the film for you.
 
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
    The Official Rating Guideline
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