Nice cast, but ‘Dresses’ feels shopworn

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:02pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

In “27 Dresses,” Katherine Heigl’s character is a wedding enthusiast, a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times, but never a bride herself.

So it will come as no surprise that the centerpiece of “27 Dresses” is a scene in which Heigl tries on her closet full of hideous bridesmaid gowns. This is the movie’s money shot, its Death Star explosion, its D-Day landing.

And it works, although the likelihood of one person gathering this many friends with bad taste is about as plausible as the plot twists in the rest of the movie.

Heigl, the cheeky blond star of “Knocked Up” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” is a pleasant and sympathetic guide through this story, although she seems too smart to suffer from the “always a bridesmaid” syndrome.

The film’s explanation is that she has long pined for her clueless boss (Edward Burns). Unfortunately, he falls for her mean-spirited younger sister (Malin Akerman, from “The Heartbreak Kid”) instead.

Heigl is pursued by an aggressive newspaper reporter (James Mardsen), but for reasons written in the romantic comedy bible, this union must be delayed until the end of the film.

Too bad, because the chemistry between Heigl and Marsden is the best thing in the film, even if they are stuck doing the obligatory scene of drunkenly singing along to a jukebox while bar patrons shout approval (it’s Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” this time). Heigl is deft at both funny faces and deadpan, while Marsden, who recently scored as the grinning dance-show host in “Hairspray,” continues to surprise.

That’s good, because there are few surprises elsewhere in this movie. Judy Greer plays her umpteenth cynical best friend (somewhere in Hollywood heaven, Eve Arden approves), Manhattan is a romance fairyland, and the soundtrack is crammed with songs sure to induce Pavlovian responses in viewers.

In short, “27 Dresses” is a warmed-over version of a movie that’s been done to death since “Pretty Woman.” Enough already.

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