Review: 27 Dresses

The very appearance of actress Judy Greer speaks volumes about the lethargy of "27 Dresses" (IMDb listing). The one-note, bitterly unfunny character actress who always plays the cynical best friend has been cast as the… wait for it…cynical best friend in this dreadful motion picture. And that, my friends, is the extent of the invention to be found in this skin-crawlingly ineffective glop of a romantic comedy.

Jane (Katherine Heigl) is always the bridesmaid and never the bride. 27 times to be exact, and the role is starting to wear thin. When her model sister Tess (Malin Akerman, "Heartbreak Kid") swoops into town and steals Jane's boss (Edward Burns) away, the perpetually single gal is left angry and discouraged. Her solace is Kevin (James Marsden, making mediocrity digestible), a newspaper lifestyle writer assigned to cover Tess' wedding, but is more intrigued with Jane's marital participation background. As the two start building trust, and soon a tentative romance, he assembles a cover-story hack job that swiftly spirals out of his control.

For the thousandth time: cliché can be a wonderful thing when it's pulled into interesting directions, lifted by talent sticking to formula for familiarity reasons, but willing to step outside the box for a few gulps of fresh air. "27 Dresses" has no fresh air. It's a polluted, suffocating experience that's content to sluggishly check off every rom-com cliché there ever was, treating intelligence as though it was some type of frightening creature to immediately sprint away from.

I hated this film for the way director Anne Fletcher ("Step Up") paints by numbers. She's a studio stooge here, crafting a mass-audience picture without any perceivable passion and failing to unearth a single titter. I hated this film for the way writer Aline Brosh McKenna scripts her female characters as deceptive, subservient floozies who can only define happiness through their relationships with men and the all-holy goal of marriage. It's 2008, right? I hated this film for the way it bored me to tears with every predestined turn of the script; treating predictability as golden gift to the audience, routinely insulting intelligence with sickening, cutesy plotting (drunken bar sing-along, dressing-room montage, BFF betrayal) that makes "Love Boat" look like a David Mamet production.

As Jane stumbles her way through this rom-com film-making 101 class you might ask yourself, what exactly is there to like about this picture? It's Heigl: her loopy way with dialogue, her unpredictable reactions, and her secret superpower that turns aggravating sequences of chest-tightening formula into small diamonds of heartbreaking reflection. "27 Dresses" is beneath the actress, but Heigl makes it dance, proving she's ready to carry her own movies, provided the next few actually have a brain to match their heartfelt intent.

It would be much easier to write off "27 Dresses" as appletini-fueled escapism for poorly-planned bachelorette parties if it wasn't so miscalculated and shrill. This is such a lazy, inconsiderate effort, put forth by professionals just punching a clock and a studio hoping a little flavorless counter-programming catches fire during football playoff season. This appalling level of romantic comedy cliché doesn't deserve to be rewarded.

Filmfodder Grade: D