You can’t fault a romantic comedy like ‘27 Dresses’ for being light and airy. Nobody behind this effort was trying to determine how to bring an end to the conflict in Darfur. Often the best cure for a variety of ills is pleasant, momentary diversion. But you can criticize the movie for being tedious and misguided. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, who adapted the far superior ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ for the screen, has penned a tale of love that makes a viewer long for eternal solitude.Katherine Heigl stars as Jane, a young New York woman whose life takes the lament “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” to a bizarre extreme. Throughout her adult life, she’s managed to organize her friends’ nuptials and serve as a bridesmaid to the point where she’s accumulated 27 separate bridesmaid outfits without ever acquiring her own wedding gown.
It’s not that she doesn’t want a wedding of her own. She pines for her successful boss George (Edward Burns) and is afraid that admitting her desire could cost her a good job. It doesn’t help that her scheming fashion model of a sister (Malin Akerman) has snagged George as a fiancé.
In addition to having the thankless duty of organizing the eventual wedding, Jane has to deal with a cynical lifestyle reporter named Kevin (James Marsden), who flirts with Jane while covering her sister’s ceremony.
It’s hard to believe that in a city of more than 10 million people, Jane has only two men to choose from.
Neither is much of a prize.
In “The Brothers McMullen” and other comedies, Burns can deliver a wisecrack, but his take on George is hopelessly bland. It’s hard to imagine feeling any sort of emotion, much less intense adulation for this guy.
To be fair to Burns, McKenna has underwritten the role. She’s also taken some shortcuts with the storyline as well. She borrows liberally from “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” even including a lame sing-a-long that’s only funny if you’re as drunk as the characters are.
If you thought that the smart-capable Heigl was an unlikely match for the listless stoner played by Seth Rogen in “Knocked Up,” you’ll find her pairing with Marsden to be a work of Tolkeinesque fantasy. Kevin is secretly writing a piece focusing on Jane’s wedding fixation, and is manipulating her for the article.
He also steals her datebook and digs into her personal data. Instead of being a cynic who’s hiding a generous heart, Kevin comes off as a bad journalist and the reason restraining orders were invented.
Director Anne Fletcher has choreographed stronger movies like “Hairspray” and “Catch Me If You Can.” McKenna’s limp script gives her and an otherwise able cast little to work with.Because of its torpid pacing and unappealing characters, “27 Dresses” may do more for the cause of abstinence than all the purity balls in the nation combined.