On Second Thought: “27 Dresses”

The rom-com is a film where you spend most of your time asking the question, “Where have I seen that before?” Sadly, you know that answer, but if you’re like me, at least while you’re watching the film, you can get past that. Hopefully the writer(s) and director have done a decent enough job to make watching the film somewhat enjoyable and worth it. If not, you’ll be quickly adding that film to the list of recycled rom-com’s you’ve seen and been disappointed by. And, let’s face it, you were probably going to add that film to the list no matter what. It’s what happens with most of these films.

The 20th Century Fox film “27 Dresses”, is a cute and fun romantic comedy, but it does nothing that hasn’t already been done to death in every other one these films.

This romantic comedy stars Katherine Heigl (“Jenny’s Wedding”, “State of Affairs”), James Marsden (upcoming series “Westworld (2016 TV series)”, “Into the Grizzly Maze”), Malin Akerman (“Misconduct”, “Billions”), Judy Greer (upcoming episodes “Archer”, “Mom”), Melora Hardin (“Transparent”, “Falling Skies”), Brian Kerwin (“The Knick”, “Addiction: A 60’s Love Story”), Maulik Pancholy (“Sanjay and Craig”, “Phineas and Ferb”), David Castro (“Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments”, “Fugly!”), Krysten Ritter (“Jessica Jones”, “Listen Up Philip”), and Edward Burns (“Public Morals”, “Louie”).

The film is directed by Anne Fletcher (“Hot Pursuit”, “The Guilt Trip”) and written by Aline Brosh McKenna (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, “Annie (2014)”).

The film originally opened on 18, 2008.

Hopefully you’re not being too judgmental because of my choice in film, but I couldn’t resist. Originally, as in three or four days ago, I had no intentions whatsoever to watch this film. It wasn’t even anywhere near my radar. But then, due to today, I decided that this, in a twisted way, would be the perfect film to watch. What better way to bring in and recognize one’s 27th birthday than with a film that merely has the number in its title? Yes, today is my birthday and I’ve turned the wonderfully old age of 27. So, to recap, on a day I care little for, I’ve decided to make it worse by watching and writing about a mildly dreadful film. Yeah, that’s certainly not masochistic at all. Even Harry Potter didn’t have it that bad.

This film, for all of its failings, achieved one thing that I think saves it in some ways. It’s cute, charming, and mostly fun, especially as you’re watching it. Afterwards, maybe less so. I recall watching this film, back in 2008 or 2009, at least that late, and thinking something along these lines, which would also explain why I’ve never truly disliked it. In some ways, I’m glad I wasn’t remembering wrong. If I had been, I probably wouldn’t have even gone through with watching it. Some romantic comedies just aren’t worth it. They’re good for nothing. There are several moments which just make watching this dull cliché of a film unspool, bearable. Enough even, where I can chuckle from time to time. I would detail some of those now, but why do that? I’ll be doing it in a little bit.

I may find this film enjoyable and can get lost in some of the cuter moments that this film delivers, but I can’t fully stand behind them. I’d look silly doing so. It’s more because, when you think on it, either during or after the film, it’s truly not overly funny, especially for a romantic comedy, or I’ve just not seen enough in awhile, and I’ve forgotten what they typically look like. In this case, it has more to do with the overall formulaic approach to the story and the cliché approach taken for some of the jokes. I mean, seriously, how may times can we see, in a PG-13 movie, a character about to say motherfucker, only to have a cut away of some sort occur? Come up with something original or just don’t do it. It stopped being cute a long time ago. Another thing that stands out, in both joke and issue with the formulaic story, is how Heigl’s character learns of Burns wanting to marry Akerman. God that’s a lot of names. Anyway, what I originally scribbled down in my notes really sums it up.

“And, of course, Jane just happens to find herself where her boss is, and he’s going to propose to her sister. [sigh] And now, Jane can’t leave, which only sells, annoyingly, the awkwardness even more.”

This, on top of the fact that we just endured a montage of sorts, complete with a Natasha Bedingfield tune (thanks Bedinngfield for not helping with this), which saw Heigl becoming the third wheel a lot. It really makes no sense. If McKenna was trying to beat the dead horse that is the fact that Burns’ character can’t do shit without his assistant, she succeeded. A bit too much. She also felt the need to obnoxiously remind us that Heigl has this big crush on Burns, but must tag along and be tortured by the merriment that is Akerman and Burns being cute. Ugh! The rest of the story continues in a very familiar way, which is what makes it more disappointing than anything. No really, not only does this film feature an annoyingly predictable and perfectly happy ending, but it also includes manufactured drama, which is what leads to Heigl later on embracing her inner Victoria Grayson. For the record, this Victoria Grayson joke may come first, but it wasn’t written first. I couldn’t help saying it again. It cracked me up too much when I thought of it in relation to what Heigl did. Regardless, there was nothing organic about the execution of this drama, even though it’s rooted in an idea I get and support. One bit of real drama that I almost missed, which is overshadowed by the above bits, is that Akerman’s character ruined the dress that her own mother once wore. The same one Heigl’s character wanted to wear. That was hard to sit through. I really felt bad, for the two minutes it required, as it was just so damn shocking. And then it was undercut, and the best dramatic moment was forgotten.

Fortunately, if you can call it that, I had other things to distract me from this unfortunate aspect of the film. There were some amazing characters in this film, and a lot who just annoyed me or did nothing to stand out and even warrant remembering. The individual characters were Heigl’s, Marsden’s, and Greer’s. On an individual level, they’re great! I love them, and feel they belonged somewhere else. It’s not so much that they seemed out of place in this film, but that they would’ve been better served in another film. Seriously, Heigl’s character should’ve been a wedding planner. I’m sure there’s a film out there we could’ve put her.

Even for all of Heigl’s character’s flaws, she was just the right amount of optimistic and had enough independence and determination, plus many other likable qualities, that it’s hard to dislike her. Marsden, it’s his job, what he does that primarily does it for me, and then the fact that he takes such an interesting view on the ideas of romance, love, and marriage. It’s cynical all right, but I get where he’s coming from. I find a lot of similar views on display because of his character. Greer’s character… Oh, what’s not to love. Sure she’s one big cliché, but she’s a helluva lot of fun! I wouldn’t mind having her as my friend, even if her advice may not always be the best. I also think that somehow Greer just knows what she’s doing with characters like this. Even in “13 Going on 30” where she had a considerably bigger role, she took an otherwise annoying character and made her likable and fun! That’s all I needed.

Not only did I get very likable characters, but I got several very cute moments between Heigl and Marsden that really worked. They came off perfectly. We call that chemistry, and it was on display! Honestly, without this the film would’ve been absolute shit. Yes, a lot of people didn’t care for it, but it’s certainly more enjoyable than other comedies out there, romantic or otherwise. Interestingly, I thought this had probably been nominated for some Razzies, but it hadn’t. So, clearly this film managed something, if not much.

Anyway, back to the cute moments and on spot chemistry. Largely, they were fun. These moments also gave us the reason for why these two polar opposites do work, whether or not you truly believe they would’ve come to this realization in this way. I’m not sure which of the few I enjoy the most, but some do stand out! I particularly enjoyed the bit when Marsden came over to interview Heigl, for what she thought was a different piece, but wasn’t, and it turned into a big thing on how many bridesmaid’s dresses she has. Spoiler alert: it’s 27. As it went on, hell, even as it began, it was all kinds of cute and fun! I even was able to look past the montage going, and get lost in how much fun they each had when examining the dresses. Never did I regret a single laugh or smile. Next, I highly enjoyed their impromptu karaoke of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets”. Absolutely ridiculous, and then lead up to it even more so, but it was somewhat refreshing. It was another perfect moment for these two, and it worked as a way to showcase how they didn’t truly know what they wanted. I truly wonder how I would’ve responded to this film if it were not for moments like these two.

One thing I can admire about McKenna’s story is the relationship between Heigl’s and Akerman’s sisters. McKenna clearly wanted there to be something that stood out as relatable and gave the audience a better way into Heigl’s character. The only problem is that it was never actually about them being sisters and the type of relationship they had. You could see McKenna sprinkling a little of that in there, but eventually, due to the plot, that’s all the relationship served. The plot. Caring about the sisters, or even Heigl, no longer mattered. Heigl was getting her love for Burns, but not being able to have him, rubbed in her face, and by someone who didn’t truly deserve him. Talk about forced jealousy. For me, the next worst thing about this, is the fact that Akerman was irritating. I don’t think it’s her, but the character she created. It became all too much, which is interesting too when you think about the fact that her character embodies a lot of cliché’s we’ve seen in various other characters, including some sisters. By the end of the film I actually didn’t feel sorry for Akerman. She got what she deserved, even if that meant Heigl had to go all Victoria Grayson to do so.

I’d say the best thing about the other character’s are their portrayer’s. For me, it’s quite simply the fact that I get to see theses various actors in something. For some of them, it’s been quite a while since they last were in anything I saw or had even heard of. When I was initially watching this again, I had to jot down the questions about Ritter and Hardin, and whether that was them or not, and this was before I even looked it up myself. I couldn’t wait for credits, I had to know that minute. So, I did, and I’m glad I was right, even if they didn’t spend much time in the film or do much else for me. At least these characters weren’t irritating, that would’ve been worse.

I’m a sucker for a decent romantic comedy, I will never deny that. However, not all are that good or worth watching more than once. That may possibly explain why this is only my second viewing of this film, but if you’re good enough, I can enjoy the effort put before me and not feel I’ve wasted almost two hours of my life. If you can get me mostly into the film, by way of cute and funny moments, I will also be more inclined to overlook the cliché and formulaic approach taken to telling the story. It really seems to be the only way a romantic comedy can come about. It’s sad, but if it ain’t broke, well, you know the rest. Mind you, even going by that standard, you’re bound to run into some utter duds.

And with that, I draw to a close my post for birthday 27! Since it came out of nowhere, and was a strange excuse to watch a movie, I can say it was fun. Not that it wouldn’t have been otherwise. I guess this should now be a thing. Each year, corresponding with the age I’ll be turning, I’ll have to watch and write a film for it. Why not? I get to watch a film, it’s a challenge, and I already do holiday film’s, so? I’m liking this already! See ya next year with another birthday related film!! Hmm… What should I do? 28… What could possibly go with that year???


2 thoughts on “On Second Thought: “27 Dresses”

  1. Pingback: 10 Years: “28 Weeks Later” | Past, Present, Future in TV and Film

  2. Pingback: “29 to Life” Would Be a Better Sentence to Serve Than Watching This Film | Past, Present, Future in TV and Film

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