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27 Dresses has a relatively standard plot.  Katherine Heigl is desperately in love with her boss (Ed Burns).  Her younger sister (Malin Ackerman) comes into town to visit, and a few weeks later, is engaged to Burns.  Meanwhile, Heigl is doggedly pursued by James Marsden, a first class wedding reporter.  The title comes from the fact that Katherine Heigl is a very very good bridesmaid, which might be expected after attending 27 marriages.

Movies of this sort typically depend on the success of a few key arcs.  One is the pain the lead feels at being so close to the man she loves, and yet unable to reach him.  This film executes this arc exquisitely, as Heigl not only has to deal with her dream man being with her sister, she has to plan much of the wedding, dealing with her sister’s Bridezilla routine.  The film does an excellent job of not laying it on too thick, and Heigl is great for just barely letting the pain show through as she soldiers on.  Well done on this front, 27 Dresses.

A second important arc, or moment, at least is the realization that the guy next door/best friend/dork you are helping out is actually the one for you.  Generally speaking, there are two main contributing factors here.  First, an established relationship with the guy next door/best friend/dork you are helping out, so the realization is believable.  And second, of lesser importance, is some sort of amusing event forcing the realization.  I’ll hold comment on the latter, which is a very minor spoiler.  My biggest problem with the movie was with the former.  Part of it is that Heigl and Marsden don’t seem to have much chemistry.  But the larger problem is that there’s no foundation for their relationship.  Granted, the characters have perfect backgrounds for each other.  But I didn’t find myself wanting them to be together.  It seems the only reasons they get together are Marsden’s stalkerish tendencies, one alcohol-fueled night, and an Elton John song.  And it is “Benny and the Jets”, for crying out loud.

There’s a few fun supporting characters, even if they don’t get much screen time..  The lovely Krysten Ritter (Gia Goodman from Veronica Mars) plays a “Goth” secretary at Heigl’s work.  Melora Hardin shows up as Marsden’s boss.  And sadly, the character is nothing like Jan.  Last, but certainly not least, Judy Greer is Heigl’s best friend/co-worker.  In a just world, Greer (the Love Monkey alum, as you surely remember) would get to be playing leads.  But I’m happy to take what I can get.

Aline Brosh McKenna’s script isn’t perfect, but it delivers.  McKenna also wrote The Devil Wears Prada, but don’t hold that against the movie.  I mostly admire the restraint shown.  Yeah, being a bridesmaid twenty-seven times is quite a lot, but it fits in with the story.  Even the slightly ridiculous things never feel over the top.

Possibly the the coolest thing about the movie, and I have an commenter to back me up, is that Malin Ackerman’s ringtone appears to be Mikey’s music from Nickelodeon Arcade.  I mean, come on.  How cool is that?

July 2008