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27 Dresses

A Chick Flick that Fits

Nothing says "chick flick" like a film centered on a woman's life-defining obsession with attending or organizing weddings (and she's not a professional wedding planner). Nothing says "romantic comedy" like a film that revolves around a woman secretly in love with her boss, but finds herself on the outside looking in as her boss falls in love with someone close to her. Throw the two ideas into the mix and you’d probably get choreographer-turned-director Anne Fletcher's (Step Up) second feature film, 27 Dresses, an engagingly effervescent romantic comedy starring Emmy award-winning actress Katherine Heigl in her first post-Knocked Up film role.

By her count, Jane (Heigl), has attended the weddings of twenty-seven friends. She's done more than that: she's also been a bridesmaid twenty-seven times, meaning she's organized twenty-seven weddings. She lives for weddings, but she's far from getting married herself. Secretly in love with her boss, George (Ed Burns), the founder and CEO of an eco-friendly outfitter, but afraid of telling him how she feels, despite her best friend and co-worker Casey's (Judy Greer) advice, Jane ends up losing George to her globe-trotting, younger, blonder sister, Tess (Malin Akerman).

In no time at all, George and Tess get engaged and Jane, always the good sister, is organizing their wedding. Adding to Jane’s complicated romantic life is Kevin Doyle (James Marsden), a writer who specializes in writing “Commitments", a weekly feature that follows New York City couples before and during their wedding. Kevin, however, is looking to move into writing hard-hitting exposes and sees Jane and her wedding as the perfect vehicle for exposing the waste and fraud of the billion dollar wedding industry.

While 27 Dresses can be predictable and contrived, it is also elevated by Fletcher’s surprisingly nimble touch and McKenna’s effortlessly lightweight, but no less entertaining, screenplay, as well as a uniformly solid cast led by Emmy Award-winning Katherine Heigl who turns in a expressive performance as the wedding-obsessed Jane. Heigl is at her best as Jane wages a losing battle to contain her decidedly mixed emotions about Tess and George, as well as the typical hate-love-hate-love scenes with the cynical Kevin (who isn’t quite the cynic he seems). Although Marsden was probably picked for the role for his standard-issue good looks, he’s (almost) Heigl’s equal when it comes to gracefully delivering the physical or verbal humor romantic comedies depend on.

27 Dresses is nothing if not formulaic. Sometimes, though, it's not the formula, but what you do with the formula that counts. Fletcher and her screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, Laws of Attraction) do almost everything right in taking their wedding-obsessed character on a journey of (what else?) self-discovery. And in doing so, 27 Dresses covers just about every genre trope (and then some).

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars