Home | Review Archive | The Bucket 'Blog | Screening Log | Film Festival Coverage | Contact Danny


  27 Dresses

Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Akerman, Edward Burns

Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Produced by: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman

Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna

Distributor: 20th Century Fox


     The characters in 27 Dresses are screwed up in so many ways that one wonders what screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna was thinking (or smoking?) when she concocted them. Forget about all of the promotional material that you’ve seen for the film and humble me by considering the nature of these people and the story that surrounds them. The movie’s protagonist, Jane (Katherine Heigl), is a woman so obsessed with weddings that sometimes she’ll even attend two in one night, jetting through Manhattan by taxi (as we see in the film’s first act) to bounce from one to the other.  She lives and breathes for the ceremonies despite the fact that she’s never been lucky enough to have one of her own, so much so that they’re all she devotes her time outside of work to. 

     Speaking of work: there, Jane develops a deep-seeded crush on her boss, George (Edward Burns), mainly because he’s the only person who semi-appreciates her. That is, until he’s introduced to Jane’s ex-Italian model of a sister, Tess (Malin Akerman), who pretends to be an entirely an different person than she really is so that his oppositely-minded intuition will fall for her. Days into their relationship, the pair decides to tie the knot, much to the unconditional approval of Tess and Jane’s father (Brian Kerwin), who doesn’t even turn a blind eye to the fact that maybe they’ve rushed to the decision. All the while, Jane is stalked by Kevin (James Marsden), a cynical guy she met at a wedding that she has grown to hate in the short time since. He’s after her both because he is romantically-interested in her and because he’s an undercover wedding-columnist who is dying to put together an article on her obsessive-tendencies. Of course, even after Jane discovers of Kevin’s sleazy intentions, he strikes her as being so charming and dashing and bad-boy-appealing that she still wants to date him.

     Um… yeah. As the viewer digests the story behind 27 Dresses, it’s quite possible that the movie will strike them as entirely ludicrous and the characters as clinically-insane. In fact, they probably are. But doing so only represents an act of pointless narrow-mindedness. Somehow, some way, the members of the movie’s cast save it from being a complete failure. In a collaborative ensemble effort, they turn McKenna’s miscalculated caricatures and director Anne Fletcher’s blasé and unremarkable approach to the material into a flowing, likable product.

     In the lead role, Katherine Heigl steals the show in what many have dubbed a “breakthrough performance.” (I’m not so sure that the label fits, though, because she was just as good in last summer’s Knocked Up.) Jane may be a bipolar psycho at heart, but one never really comes to fully realize this with Heigl at the reigns. Playing the part effortlessly, the actress manages to be completely likable, turning the character’s pathetic-nature into genuine underdog-charm. Electrified by the performance, Jane becomes a hard woman not to feel for, one whose genuine hopes for marriage and family-life in a distant and secularized America come off as pure as they do admirable. Heigl embodies said traits with notable finesse: she’s not only likable for what her bent on Jane represents, but because she is sexy, funny, self-depricating, and totally relatable as an actress. It’s a true treat for the audience to absorb the aura elicited by her work.

     Opposite Heigl, James Marsden is almost equally-likable as Kevin. He does a terrific job in the role, perfectly balancing the character’s exploitative-intentions in writing an article spoofing Jane (which transitively makes her more sympathetic) and his genuinely misguided goodness. Marsden ensures that Kevin’s flaws counteract with Jane’s, creating romantic-chemistry between them that ignites on the screen and allows the viewer to believe in their implausible relationship. Alongside Marsden, Edward Burns (who seems to have come out of the woodwork with this and One Missed Call) and Malin Akerman do fine jobs of bringing life and nuance to stock supporting-characters.

     Despite my high-praise of the cast, I would be lying if I said that 27 Dresses totally overcomes its insipid conception. With a forgettable and predictable structure to boot, the movie’s poorly-written characters and situations become burdensome as the viewer reflects upon them. As invigorating as Heigl, Marsden, and the rest of the cast are, they have a hard time achieving a lasting power that trumps the core-material’s bitter aftertaste. As it is, however, 27 Dresses is much better than I would have ever imagined merely by reading its script. Even if it won’t exactly rock one’s world in the days after one sees it, the movie certainly goes down easy thanks to some great performances.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 1.20.2008

Screened on: 1.13.2008 at the AMC Burbank 16 in Burbank, CA.


27 Dresses is rated PG-13 and runs 107 minutes.

Back to Home