27 Dresses

Jan 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

Normally the extras shouldn't be the first thing noticed in a movie, but the crowds in this rom-com ditty stick out and distract you from the all-too-familiar amorous patter of the photogenic leads. One bar scene here is only slightly less off-putting than the one in Star Wars — a roomful of pasty, dog-collared and spikey-topped partiers upstage the film's stars, looking like they stepped out of that infamous "punk murder" episode of Quincy.

Never mind that a glamour kitten like Katherine Heigl wouldn't be caught dead in such a downtown shithole, or that she and her colorless yuppie pals would be more at home sipping giant blue margaritas at Applebee's — details and logic aren't on the menu here. Thanks to Anne Fletcher's flat, amateurish direction and the limp script by Aline Brosh McKenna, 27 Dresses nails all the wedding-fetish points in a predictable, flowery fantasia for chicks hooked on Lifetime TV.

Yeah, this plot has more formula than a case of Gerber's, but it's not the worst example of its depleted genre. Credit for avoiding outright disaster goes to the appealing cast, headed by the very likable Heigl, as Jane, a career bridesmaid now faced with the horrifying prospect of watching her flighty younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) zip in after a streak of jet-setting and tramping, only to put the moves on Jane's dashing boss and secret crush (Ed Burns). We're asked to believe that the luminous Heigl is somehow the dowdier of the siblings, or that their hardware store-owning widowed dad managed to raise two of the frilliest girls imaginable. Another whopper is that brash, cynical playboy Kevin (James Marsden) makes his living at a New York Times-like paper covering the wedding beat, a section our gown-chasing heroine reads obsessively. In fact, her pathetic stalker-fixation on the "I do's" of others gives Kevin one killer story, which includes a photo spread of her modeling the closet full of hideous dresses she keeps as mementos. The story serves Kevin's career-changing exposé on the big-money "wedding industry." Right.

If you don't know by now that Kevin and Jane are going to fight, flirt and fall in love while drunkenly belting out "Bennie and the Jets" on a pool table, then welcome back from the Amish country.

As far as movie calendars go, January is always a bridesmaid, never a bride, hence forgettable tripe like this. Then again, this is exactly the kind of comforting junk-culture "product" designed for a nice date-night at the mall.