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Friday, June 6, 2008

'27 Dresses'

If only she got married she might calm down


One hesitates to say, but there's something slightly creepy about a superorganized, superefficient planner of other people's weddings who still lugs around a bulging filofax to sort out her many matrimonial tasks. Unlike a long-ago J-Lo (see "The Wedding Planner"), she doesn't do this for a living, either. Jane (Katherine Heigl), the wedding-junkie protagonista in "27 Dresses," simply loves to attend them (her favorite moment is watching the groom's face when his bride comes walking down the aisle) just as couples about to tie the knot just love having her as bridesmaid — and the mutual nuptial enthusiasm has resulted in a total of 27 taffeta/chiffon/silk contrivances cramming Jane's closet, the likes of which would cause the god of Modern Fashion to spit on the catwalk.

27 Dresses Rating: (2 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
MOVIES
Dressed up: Katherine Heigl in "27 Dresses" © 2008 TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX AND SPYGLASS ENTERTAINMENT FUNDING

Director: Anne Fletcher
Running time: 107 minutes
Language: English
Now showing (June 6, 2008)
[See Japan Times movie listing]

Speaking of which, this slur against couture was penned by (gasp) "The Devil Wears Prada" scribe Aline Brosh McKenna. Where her former work was laced with designer-threads cynicism, this latest is defined by an excessive sincerity, with not a sliver of irony to slash through the earnestness of it all.

"27 Dresses" is the story of a gal who's literally clawing the walls to get married, or more specifically, to walk down the aisle in that big white dress and watch the groom's face light up with sheer delight. Maybe it's just me, but if I were a guy and got into a conversation with Jane at a wedding function, I'd slide back against the wall, leave the premises on tiptoe and take the next plane out of town.

This isn't to say that "27 Dresses" is bad. On the contrary (such as a lot of jokes), it's fun and laughable and a wee bit insulting to both viewers and Manhattan, where this whole thing is set. What kind of young woman would have 27 close friends launching into holy matrimony in New York City? What kind of young woman would actually say yes to being bridesmaid to all said weddings in New York City? And who in New York City would have the closet space for all those frilly cumbersome contraptions?

The story may have worked in a more amenable place like Dallas, but New York is a city of gays, singles and divorcees all elbowing each other in the desperate race for a couple more inches of floor space, any space. How Jane, who's a personal assistant to the editor of a sports magazine, can afford her wedding fetish and not have to share an apartment with four others all scheming to get at each other's orange-juice cartons in the fridge is an offense not so easy to forgive coming on top of all the other chick-flick offenses: the handsome but clueless boss George (Ed Burns) on whom Jane has a secret crush; the unsubtle sibling rivalry that pits nice Jane against her selfish, sexy kid sister; the smarmy columnist (James Marsden) who hides his shy liking for Jane behind a stream of wisecracks. Enough, already.

What Jane truly needs is a blast of New York reality, like the sudden appearance of Godzilla outside her apartment window aiming his rocket-fire breath right into the voluminous folds of all 27 dresses, and then discovering that her insurance won't cover damages. Now that, honey, is a true New York predicament.

But the filmmakers aren't the least bit interested in realism nor do they seem particularly fond of Jane, as they saddle her with the kind of qualities that in the real world would render her friendless, never mind dateless. Her favorite reading material is wedding magazines and when she's not on the phone with the caterers, she's haggling with cab drivers, arguing with bakers, sprinting down streets and burning up more calories than any action star — just so she can swing yet another wedding not her own.

In the meantime, Jane's annoying sister Tess (Malin Akerman) hits town, crashes in her apartment and snaps up George like a bowlful of Cap'n Krunch cereal on a Saturday morning. Which, when you think about it, is the only thing that rings true in the movie. Apart from the fact that George (straight, cute and rich) had been miraculously, incredulously single for so long, it's only in the natural order of the universe for an out-of-town hottie to grab him within 24 hours of first sighting.

Then of course, the devastated Jane is asked to plan the wedding. Could the moral to this be as brutally banal as nice girls finish last? I'd prefer: S**t happens, usually in Hollywood movie weddings.


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