27 Dresses

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27 Dresses
Review (6/10)
(By Ron Henriques)

A case of food poisoning prevented me from catching this Katherine Heigl movie early enough to review it, and believe it or not, some may actually see that as a good thing. "27 Dresses" looks like an easily dismissed typical romantic snooze that's been dumped in January and that's not too far from the truth. I've been watching Heigl since she played Gerard Depardieu's prepubescent daughter in "My Father the Hero" and Steven Seagal's crafty niece in "Under Siege 2". If you've watched her over the years (especially in the pages of Maxim on FHM), you'll understand that her appeal doesn't come from her acting style. Tell that to her, because her recent success on "Grey's Anatomy" and the comedy "Knocked Up" seem to have blown her career and ego out of proportion. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like she has the attitude that "Knocked Up" wouldn't have been a success without her, when we all know anyone could have played her role. Heigl isn't the reason I wanted to see "27 Dresses", but her co-star Jimmy Marsden. Back when he made "X-Men" with Bryan Singer, the director stated it was a shame that Marsden had half his face covered with a visor as Cyclops because he's such a charming and hilarious guy. It took almost a decade for most to realize that fact with the one-two punch releases last year of "Hairspray" with Marsden as TV host Corny Collins and his turn as "Prince Edward" in the surprise hit "Enchanted". Not only did Marden have a charming presence, but he's a true song and dance man. His work in "27 Dresses" isn't stellar (thanks to a mediocre script), but for him its a step in the right direction.

For me Marsden is the central character of the picture not Heigl and though she manages to gain some sympathy for her pathetic and lonely character, there are a dozen other actresses that could have played the role. Marsden is a reporter at a fictional New York Times knock-off who writes a weekend column about the latest weddings in the city. He's a bit cynical about marriage (we find out later his fiance slept with his roommate), but you can't tell from his writing which comes across as hopelessly romantic. He needs a big story to move up at the paper and Heigl may be his ticket. She works as a maid of honor and wedding planner and when he first discovers her, she's racing back and forth in a cab between two weddings happening at once. Heigl is a hopeless romantic herself and thinks she's desperately in love with her boss Ed Burns who though is a nice guy, has that "I couldn't care less" look on his face that he does in every movie. She wants true romance and not a weekend roll in the hay like her best friend and co-worker hilariously played to perfection by Judy Greer (who could have played this lead role). Just when she thinks Burns is finally noticing her, Heigl's spoiled younger blonde sister Malin Ackerman from "The Heartbreak Kid" rolls into town and sweeps Burns off his feet. In reality a real woman would tell her sis, "back off bitch, he's mine and I saw him first", but as Ackerman and Burns get cozier, Heigl just swallows and turns the other cheek.

Marsden feels that Heigl and her profession would make a good "Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride" type article, and although she eventually finds out he's a writer she doesn't know he's actually researching her. In fact Marsden's pursuit of Heigl is rather strange, almost to the point of stalking and when she finally agrees to hang with him for a bit, he acts even creepier. Of course if you're familiar with how these stupid romantic comedies are constructed you'll figure out that Marsden's article is just a plot device to break them apart just as they start to come together. The sparks of romance between them, don't revolve around wedding planning or the idea of a perfect mate, but a drunken rendition of Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" that they both perform at a crowded bar after car trouble strands them in the rain. Though his initial pursuit of Heigl seems odd, Marsden eventually comes across as quite charming and has her figured out before she does herself. The fact that he gets she's the type of person who puts the happiness of others before her own makes her character easier to sympathize with and gives Heigl the chance to make you feel sorry for her. The heartbreak that her sister has swooped in to snatch up a guy she thought she was in love with is on her face and that's not easy for any actress to pull off. Heigl is only going to have this trick for a short time because lets face it, she's not getting any younger and the next generation is waiting in the wings to upstage and replace her.

The film is not only filled with flaws, but with the exception of Marsden and Greer, most of the characters are unlikable. Though she's a spoiled brat, Ackerman has this glow around her that makes her joyful to observe and that's probably why a guy like Burns' character fell for her b.s. Without Marsden in the picture, the film would be nothing and it barely is, but I've seen dumber and far more ridiculous romantic comedies in recent years and sitting through this one didn't feel like I lost any piece of my life I could never get back. As for Marsden, he has a promising future ahead of him and I hope his lead roles will continue to grow without having to always play second fiddle. If director Bryan Singer really meant what he said, Marsden would have played the Man of Steel in "Superman Returns" instead of the poor schlub Lois Lane settled for.


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