September 13, 2008
The New York Times recently ran an article about the current state of the chick flick. It cited The Devil Wears Prada (2006) as the most commercially successful film of the genre and suggested that less women were going to these films than before. And the women that were going were considerably younger in age – often in their twenties. As luck would have it, 27 Dresses (2008) is not only written by the same woman who wrote the screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada but it stars Katherine Heigl fresh from the critical and commercial smash, Knocked Up (2007). The result was a slam dunk and 27 Dresses was a box office hit.
Jane (Heigl) loves attending weddings – not as a bride mind you, but as a bridesmaid. Her mania extends to perusing the wedding announcement section of the New York Times and attending two weddings in one night. At one of them she meets Kevin (Marsden), an ambitious writer for the Style section of a local newspaper, when he revives her after she was knocked unconscious going for the bridal bouquet.
Jane works as an administrative assistant for her boss George (Burns) whom she is infatuated with, but, naturally, he hardly knows that she exists. On a taxi ride home from the wedding, she accidentally leaves her day planner in the cab and Kevin takes it. He later realizes that her obsession with weddings might make a good feature article that will catapult him out of the Style section and into the big leagues. However, George is attracted to Jane’s sister, Tess (Akerman) and, of course, they hit if off, much to Jane’s chagrin. Jane is so fixated on George that she doesn’t realize that Kevin likes her even though he hates weddings.
Jane and George banter and bicker back and forth and keep crossing paths in a way that you know after the first ten minutes how the film will end. This is not necessarily a bad thing so long as the journey there is entertaining and fun. Katherine Heigl does a fine job as she gets to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in her first starring vehicle. She demonstrates an affinity for physical comedy and is not afraid to look silly which, oddly enough, makes her even more attractive than she already is. Heigl gamely plays along with the formulaic screenplay but after working with the superior material in Knocked Up, the one for 27 Dresses feels like a safe step back. She is clearly smarter than this material.
The real scene stealer in 27 Dresses is James Marsden who looks like he’s having a blast with his role and the film comes to life whenever he’s on screen. He exudes natural charm and has excellent comic timing that is readily apparent in his exchanges with Heigl’s character. Marsden gives a lot of his dialogue just the right kind of flippant spin but it’s a front to cover a romantic side. He carries himself in an effortless way that is fun to watch.
If you’re a fan of weddings you’ll laugh along to the affectionate pokings and proddings that 27 Dresses takes at the wedding industry. If you hate them, you’ll like the potshots it takes. Depending on how you feel about weddings, you’ll either see them through Kevin’s eyes or through Jane’s but both points-of-view are represented equally in this delightful time waster.
“The Wedding Party” is a fairly standard making of featurette that mixes clips from the film, behind-the-scenes footage, and soundbites from the cast and crew. Everyone gushes about each other. It’s a light and breezy extra, much like the film itself.
“You’ll Never Wear That Again!” takes a look at the hideous bridesmaid dresses from the film. The director told wardrobe to find the ugliest dresses and succeeded. The various themed weddings are also discussed in this engaging and fun extra.
“Jane’s World” examines the production design and how they made Rhode Island look like New York City (?!). A lot of research was done on weddings in order to capture the distinct look of each one.
“The Running of the Brides” is an annual tradition that sees women from all over the country camping out at a store where they all try to get the perfect dress to get married in. It’s a shopping frenzy as people race around to get a dress or trade with others.
Also included are three deleted scenes. The first one sees Jane trying to get a cab in New York (good luck) and was wisely cut. The best of the bunch sees Jane, her best friend (Greer) and Tess’ best friend trying on bridesmaid dresses. The interaction between the three of them is amusing. Finally, there is a scene where Jane and Tess retrieve George’s dog from a pound which seems out of place in the film and was also wisely cut.