Monday, September 5, 2011

Clyde’s Movie Palace: 27 Dresses (2008)

 27 Dresses Marquee
27 Dresses
Katherine Heigl
James Marsden
Judy Greer
Malin Akerman
Edward Burns
(Clyde note:  This review was originally written back in January of 2008, so you’ll have to forgive the out of date references.  It has been updated somwhat, and contary to my previous posts, I somehow managed to come up with screen shots of Heigl wearing all 27 dresses)

Since Valentine’s day is just a scant 25 days away and because Clyde is a genuine All-American romantic kind of guy, I thought now would be as good of a time as any to take someone near and dear to my heart to a romantic movie or two, then come back here to the old blogoroonie and give everyone a full report. That someone whom I escorted of course would be The Girlfriend, who was overjoyed that I cared and loved her so deeply that I would give up a full day out of my three day weekend to escort her to 27 Dresses instead of wandering off alone to see Cloverfield. Okay, so maybe it didn’t exactly happen that way and maybe it was she who had to drag me off to see it, but there are worst ways to spend a Saturday.

For some guys,  admitting they  might really enjoy a chick flick is tantamount to being a traitor to your brethren, especially when there’s a giant monster of some sort eating the head off of the Statue of Liberty in the movie auditorium right across the hall. So I won’t admit to that. Instead I’ll just say that as romantic films that get the female juices flowing, 27 Dresses wasn’t half bad.  Actually, it was pretty damn good but just pretend you didn’t read that here.

It certainly wasn’t what I expected. When I first saw the preview a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be a rollicking romantic screwball comedy. It turned out to be only about 10 per cent screwballish and 90 percent sweet, sad, and touching. In other words, it’s a combination that is guaranteed to make any woman’s heart go all aflutter.

Like  so many other of the several thousand romantic comedies that have come before it, 27 Dresses has the usual plot gimmick to help get us from Point A to Point B. And if all goes well, our hero and heroine will somehow overcome all obstacles to find true love by the time the credits roll or hopefully before I have to make a quick dash to the nearest restroom after downing a $150 dollar supersized large diet Coke.

27 Dresses 007Katharine Heigl plays Jane, a woman who just loves going to weddings, being a bridesmaid for her friends and in most cases being the go to person when it comes to making wedding arrangements.  Jane’s fascination and knack for helping with weddings came about soon after her mother died, when as a very young child she helped her sister find a bathroom, fix her hair, and used a bow to repair the bride’s wedding dress.
When we catch up with Jane as an adult, she is busy doing double duty as bridesmaids at two different weddings on the same night, requiring her to hire a taxi for the evening, and to shuttle back and forth between the two receptions changing in and out of the different bridesmaid dresses while riding in the back seat. It’s a hilarious sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the film even if it’s not particularly believable.
Enter Kevin (James Marsden). Kevin is a newspaper reporter whose present job consists of going to weddings and then writing about them. It’s a job he loathes, but we all have to make a living somehow don’t we? Frankly though, if my job consisted of being required to attend upscale weddings during the day and writing about it at night, then I wouldn’t be bitching, moaning, and groaning about it. I’d figure that life is damn good.
Later, we find out  that Kevin got dumped at the altar once when his bride-to-be ran away with his best friend so I suppose one could understand why it might make him more than a little grumpy.  Such an event wouldn’t discourage me one bit though, so maybe it’s a line of work I’ll be  looking into.   Unlike Kevin, I like weddings, just so long as they aren’t my own.   Anyway, I digress. Where was I?  Oh yeah, Kevin and Jane.
27 Dresses 0006

Before the night is over Jane is forced to share her Taxi with Kevin and it’s hate at first sight. However, after Jane departs for the evening Kevin discovers her daily planner and finds out that Jane has pretty much made a lifetime career out of being a bridesmaid. Twenty-seven times to be exact.  Kevin convinces his editor to let him write a story about Jane which if successful, will get him a promotion and one way ticket out of the Wedding of the Week Club.
27 Dresses Collage

reason Jane herself has never made it to the altar as the star of her own wedding is because she is carrying the torch for her boss George (Edward Burns). And no, it’s not a case of George not knowing that Jane exists. As far as George is concerned, Jane is indispensable. It’s just that he doesn’t see her as a love interest but does acknowledge that she can tie a neck tie like nobody’s business.  Jane hopes all of that will change someday, despite the fact that her co-worker and friend Casey (Judy Greer) is constantly nagging her to move on with her life.
27 Dresses 008

27 Dresses 00010
And as if all of that weren’t complicated enough, Jane’s beautiful younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) promptly flies into town, meets Boss George, and quicker than you can say Dress Number 28, they begin dating and falling in love much to the chagrin of Jane. This of course leaves Jane and Kevin to begin dating even though she despises his cynical attitude towards marriage.
27 Dresses 000

So will George and Tess get married? Or will George realize that Jane is the girl for him? Will Kevin be the one to actually fall for Tess? Or does he only have eyes for Jane? Will Kevin write the story about Jane’s 27 appearances as a bridesmaid? And will it be published about the time his cynicism might be turning to love? Will George discover that Tess isn’t all she is cracked up to be and turn to Jane for comfort? Will Jane finally tire of being a bridesmaid and wedding planner all rolled into one? And will Izzy Stevens and George O’Malley  get back together again and have wild drunken sex once more? Oh sorry, but I am missing Grey’s Anatomy.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you’ll be able to answer all of those above questions by the time 27 Dresses has completed about a fourth of it’s 107 minutes of running time. But chances are it won’t matter to you as most of the films in the romantic comedy genre usually are predictable by their very nature.
You’ll still find plenty to enjoy thanks to another strong performance by Katharine Heigl. It’s one thing to star in a film of this sort and to get a few laughs with some well written snappy dialogue, but Heigl manages to go beyond that. She has this wonderful ability to draw the audience into her character. You can readily identify with her, laugh with her, cry for her, be embarrassed for her, and to feel as sad and lonely as she seems to be in the early part of this movie.
We cheer her when she finally does take a stance, but we feel her remorse for having done so when it backfires to some extent. There are only a handful of actresses who can manage all of that, and do it all in one film. Sadly, at the rate her film career is taking off, I may eventually have to deal with the fact that Grey’s will be losing another one of its original and best cast members sometime soon. (Note:  this in fact did happen)
The supporting cast in this film aren’t exactly slouches either. Malin Akerman does a great job of making Tess the evil obnoxious sister that you’ll love to hate. James Marsden manages to somehow make his character believable as someone who is suppose to be a jerk on the outside, but yet gives indications that there is more to him than meets the eye. But best of the supporting players is Judy Greer as Jane’s best friend Casey. She has at least three of the films funniest moments including doing her best to literally knock some sense into Jane at one point.

The bottom line is that most romantic comedies are predictable. They are only successful when they have a good gimmick to make things interesting and when the script has enough witty moments to make you laugh occasionally.
But most importantly,  the actors have to make you care about them and their romantic dilemma, and to feel the same ranges of emotions that they are feeling on the screen. And thanks in large part to another fine effort by Katharine Heigl, 27 dresses certainly manages to do just that.  I really loved everything about this film, from beginning to end.   And when a film can achieve such lofty and worthy goals I have no choice but to give it my grade, which for 27 Dresses would be an A-.

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