Day 12 – A Rom-Com
If the cliché goes that women don’t care about action movies, it also says that men could give a s@$# less about romantic comedies. Still, we here at Diversion 2.0 are all about equality, and because we covered such a bro-heavy genre during Day 10, we are getting our chick flick on for Day 12.
27 Dresses (2008)
There are two ways to approach watching a romantic comedy: either rail against the established formula of stock characters, contrived situations, and obligatory happy ending; or accept the movie for what it is and instead focus on how the movie works within the established template. Since I’ve opted to go for the latter approach, I will concede that 27 Dresses works fairly well; the film does nothing to distinguish itself from the typical rom-com mold, but instead takes a well-worn formula and executes it well.
27 Dresses stars Katherine Heigl as Jane Nichols, a woman who has been a bridesmaid in 27 weddings (hence the title). One night, while attending two weddings almost at once, she bumps into Kevin Doyle (James Marsden), a charming but cynical gentleman whose jaded views on marriage run absolutely contrary to Jane’s. The two bicker on their cab ride home, but Jane accidentally forgets her day planner in the car. Kevin, who writes for the local paper, decides to use the contents of her planner to write a story on Jane’s always-a-bridesmaid lifestyle. Will Kevin start to grow closer to Jane, only to disappoint her when she discovers he wanted to write an exploitative article about her? Will Jane find that Kevin isn’t the jaded A-hole he pretends to be? Will there be misunderstandings, conflicts, and an ultimate resolution? I’ll give you 27 guesses.
Though undemanding, 27 Dresses delivers a decent piece of cinematic fluff.
I first saw this movie when one of my old girlfriends, after patiently sitting through the likes of Taken and Die Hard, suggested we watch something a bit more… chick-y. I had seen a fair few rom-coms in my day (including What Women Want, in theaters, with my father), so I braced myself for the worst. To my surprise, it wasn’t half-bad. Entirely derivative, perhaps, but not half-bad.
Most of the appeal in a rom-com comes from the watching the two protagonists—if they work well onscreen, the movie has a better chance of working, but if their chemistry is lifeless and flaccid, the likelihood of the film being a clunker is all but certain. How fortunate, then, that Marsden and Heigl play off of each other so well. Both actors have an unforced charisma about them, and create a believable romantic tension together. Every rom-com also seems to have a wa-acky best friend, and 27 Dresses’ sidekick du jour is Casey (Judy Greer), whose stereotypically broad antics are still fitfully amusing. Less effective, though, are Jane’s sister, Tess, (Malin Åkerman) and dreamy boss (Edward Burns), who provide the movie’s subplot; Jane is in love with her boss, but Tess quickly cozies up to him, and the two announce their engagement. Still, for the most part, 27 Dresses is surprisingly well-acted, or at least it’s better than can be expected for such a by-the-books romantic comedy.
In a rom-com, sometimes all you can ask for are two charming protagonists, and this is where 27 Dresses delivers
It’s actually 27 Dresses’ bookishness that works to the film’s advantage. Director Anne Fletcher knows that chick-flick audiences watch these movies because of the formula, and works every cliché and genre hallmark with style and aplomb (e.g., Jane and Kevin bond over a bar sing-along of “Benny and the Jets”). She also moves things along at a steady clip, too, leaving the movie feeling light, frothy, and—get this—fun. While Fletcher doesn’t reinvent the rom-com wheel with 27 Dresses, I got the feeling that she didn’t want to, and, as a genre exercise, the movie holds up pretty well.
While I wouldn’t necessarily watch it on my own time, 27 Dresses isn’t so bad, and is probably one of the few outright chick flicks that I would sit through if my significant other was hell-bent on watching some airy comedy where the girl gets the guy in the end.