27 Dresses is, as much as it is a movie, a daring run for a World Record for number of cliché ideas about chicks and marriage shoved, clown-car style, into one two hour RomCom. Whereas Bride Wars settles for the general theme of “women secretly hate each other,” and every other movie settles for the idea of, “people rush into marriage, but true love conquers all,” 27 Dresses really has so many things to say about ladies and their emotionally-fraught relationship with weddings.
Like, did you know that an older sister will feel distressed if her younger, “more beautiful” sister weds before her? It is so. Did you know that some women have a hard time saying “no” and readily put others needs before their own? Yep. Did you know that women either chastely flounder in a purgatory of unrequited/inappropriate workplace crushes, or have frequent meaningless hookups facilitated by open bars? Well, that is how it goes. These are just some of the Rules of the Universe as laid out by 27 Dresses. Hitting on all these cliches require a pretty dense plot:
Katherine Heigl’s character, Jane, is an unpaid wedding planner. I guess she got her job as assistant to the head of an ambiguous environmentally friendly catalogue/publishing company right out of college, so she probably doesn’t really understand what a “fair wage” is. So on top of her ambiguous publishing job (RomCom Bingo check!), she’s been a bridesmaid at 27 weddings, 7 in the last year, and she’s the bridesmaid to out-organize all bridesmaids. In the first act, she works two weddings in one night! “Hilarity” ensues. I just worry about her un”professional”ism. I also wonder where she meets these brides, given she’s only seen having an actual friendship with the girl in the Judy Greer role (played Judy Greer, which I think is some bitchin’ casting, especially because it let me fill another square on my Bingo card) and has at least two full-time jobs.
Then there is Kevin, who writes the “Commitments” column in the Sunday “New York Journal.” [I find the name of this fake newspaper very embarrassing, especially when one of the brides worries about something embarrassing published in “the New York Frickin’ Journal.”] Despite his job, Kevin’s jaded about weddings because he got jilted by his fiancée. (BINGO!) He wants to write a piece on Jane and her bizarre unpaid second job as a wedding planner, but has trouble getting close to her until he’s assigned to write up her younger sister’s wedding.
The younger sister, Tess, is marrying Jane’s boss, George. Jane has secretly loved George for forever, adding a whole new dimension of pathetic sadness to her life. Tess and George are perfect for each other because they are selfish, smug, and obnoxious, but get away with it by being good-looking. Jane is miserable that she’s losing her love to her younger sister, but she doesn’t do anything simple like say, “Hey, sis, remember all those times we talked about my boss with whom I am in pathetic love? That is him.” Because this is a movie, and it is more dramatic if she says nothing and then ruins their wedding by revealing Tess’ fake vegetarianism at the rehearsal dinner.
Kevin, to his credit, calls Jane on her stubborn selflessness multiple times throughout the movie. She always brushes him off. After their inevitable boning, Kevin’s column on Jane is inevitably published at the worst time, and she very reasonably stops talking to him. But somehow his Very Levelheaded Man Message gets through her Dense Lady Skull. [After, of course, she kisses her Boss/Little Sister’s Ex-Fiancé because she had “Most Inappropriate Makeout Session Possible” on her Bucket List.] So she marries the guy who showed her the light, although there’s little indication that she’s actually learned how to have her own needs. Well, she does make everyone she’s ever worked for without pay stand up at her wedding in the dress they made her wear:
Cute, right? Well, sometimes I like to attack clever things with logic bombs. Did she have each bridesmaid find their own copy of their dress? Even the one with the hoop skirt? How did that work?! How expensive was that? How does a lifelong doormat get 27 fake friends to do this for her?
Or, are they wearing the actual dress that Jane wore? Alterations must have been a bitch, even though Jane only hangs out with skinny chicks (so she can attend their gown fittings for them). And what about the montage of dubious self-empowerment wherein Jane put all the dresses in trash bags? I guess she then vacuum-sealed the bags and shoved them under her bed? Sorry, not buying it. And for a movie so committed to raw, realistic depiction of life as we know it, that ending is a drastic departure in tone.
Honestly, despite the Olympic Cliché Decathlon, I really enjoy this movie. Sometimes I like things that are not good for me, like beer or Chicken McNuggets.