Verdict: Katherine Heigl rises above routine chick flick
Had I never seen a romantic comedy before, I might have been more impressed by 27 Dresses, a machine-made product that, like a poorly made bridesmaid's dress,
makes the leading lady look good but falls apart much too rapidly.
Towards the end, as the characters were being made to behave more and more idiotically to fit in with the demands of Hollywood romcom, I was groaning and
longing for it to be over.
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Funny girl: Heigl convinces as the perennial bridesmaidThe main pleasure is the chance to see the emergence of Katherine Heigl (who last impressed in the lads movie Knocked Up) as one of the few leading actresses who can carry a chick flick and give it some authentic feeling.
She manages to be funny and touching as Jane, a selfless elder sister to flaky Tess (Malin Akerman, a Cameron Diaz lookalike).
Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, with 27 bridesmaids¿ dresses to prove it, Jane has to grit her teeth and smile when the boss shes had a crush on for years, a
mountaineering entrepreneur (Edward Burns), falls for her younger sister and Jane has to arrange the wedding.
You may have spotted that there's a huge flaw in that premise, and its contained in the two dread words 'Edward Burns'.
Back in 1995, writer-director-actor Burns became the great white hope of American indie cinema with his debut, The Brothers McMullen.
But his unique ability to be smug, smarmy and uncharismatic has meant that he has been on the big screen with decreasing frequency. 27 Dresses shows why.
Age has not made him any more interesting, and he remains a charisma-free zone.
This fatally damages the movie.
It makes us wonder if our lovely heroine is really as smart as she appears (how can she be when she defines her happiness through her relationship with this self-satisfied dork?), and removes any tension as to whether he and she end up together.
As Burns¿ star has waned, so James Marsden¿s has ascended. Through a series of flashy character roles in X-Men, The Notebook and Superman Returns, culminating in
his hilariously thick Prince Edward in Enchanted, he has established himself as handsome but sparky: a Tom Cruise lookalike, but with a sense of humour.
Marsden puts a lot of energy into playing Kevin, a newspaper reporter who¿s cynical about marriage but writes beautifully about weddings.
The only two sequences which truly come alive in 27 Dresses are where Heigl
shows off her hideous dresses, and she and Marsden get drunk and sing in a bar- and even these are based on equivalent sequences in Pretty Woman and My Best
But the formula-reliant screenplay requires Kevin to do such sneaky, creepy things that
not even Marsden's charm can convince us he's worthy of Jane.
And then she starts behaving so spitefully and stupidly that she forfeits our sympathy as well.
The film is being advertised as from the writer who brought you The Devil Wears Prada - but Aline Brosh McKenna's script is more of a throwback to her first two,
highly forgettable romcoms, Three To Tango (1999) and Laws Of Attraction (2004).
Some of 27 Dresses is frothy and fun. Too much is leaden, cliched and predictable, including almost the whole of its second half.