27 Dresses (2008)
July 14, 2023 11:07 PM - Subscribe

After serving as a bridesmaid 27 times, a young woman wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister's side as her sibling marries the man she's secretly in love with.

Perennial bridesmaid Jane (Katherine Heigl) always puts the needs of others before her own, making her the go-to gal whenever someone needs help with wedding plans. So when Jane's younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) snags the man (Edward Burns) Jane secretly loves, Jane finds herself questioning her role as a wedding junkie for the first time in her life. Meanwhile, a handsome reporter (James Marsden) sees Jane's unusual story as his ticket off the bridal beat.

Caroline Siede: You can feel that compromise in the final product, and it holds 27 Dresses back from being a true rom-com classic. That being said, the film has a lot more thematic meat on its bones than most of the other rom-coms of its era. For starters, Jane is a really interesting rom-com character, the sort of archetype that feels more common than it actually is. She’s not exactly mousy or overlooked, though she has hints of those qualities. Reviews of the film often described Jane as pathologically wedding-obsessed, but while she’s endearingly non-judgmental of the tackiness of her friends’ wedding day choices, the film’s wedding theme is more a metaphor for Jane’s extreme self-sacrifice. A closet full of ugly bridesmaid dresses represents the baggage Jane carries around in her naïve idea that if she gives everything she has of herself, one day everyone she’s ever helped will return the favor in equal measure.

Cate Young: But it really is Heigl’s film, and she sells both the enthusiasm of someone high on the brilliant potential of love and versed in combatting the barbs of cynicism. She and Marsden have an easy chemistry, and their romance never feels forced. When Jane and Kevin are together, he teases out a joy in her that she rarely allows herself to experience in service of herself. When they come together in the end, it feels not just inevitable, but earned.

Jane Crowther: Like How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and 13 Going On 30, this slice of cinematic fondant succeeds by tempering the sweet with the sharp. Devil Wears Prada scribe Aline Brosh McKenna’s sassy script gives the equally charming Heigl and Marsden plenty of Gable-Colbert-esque love/hate sniping to do, but also allows them some genuinely heartfelt moments together. Heigl clowns beguilingly in a series of vile dresses but is seriously affecting when she realises her sib has pulled George. Relishing another chance to flaunt his comic chops, a post-Enchanted Marsden pulls off cocky with swaggering ease, but he’s also a (sexy) hoot in the obligatory pissed-up seduction scene – which is never a cinch to nail.

Fun and engaging though it is, stock plot contrivances (would you really split up over that?) and mawkish declaration (“You’d rather focus on other people’s Kodak moments than make one of your own!”) will doubtless stick in the craw of your more cynical side. So it’s best to know your saccharine limit before RSVP-ing to this event.

posted by Carillon (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yeoman's work bringing the romcom canon to FF!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:25 PM on July 15, 2023 [8 favorites]

Seconded. I've been following the posts and much respect, Carillon!
posted by cocoagirl at 5:34 PM on July 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

:) Thank you! It's a genre I like and saw a gap worth adding in!

As for 27 Dresses, I remember really liking parts of it. Her chemistry with Marsden is great, the montage of all the different weddings is solid and funny. It's probably realistic, but I didn't love the way Tess' character swerves from villain to confidant. I'm sure plenty of folks have a similar relationship with their sibling, but it didn't work well for me.
posted by Carillon at 8:18 PM on July 17, 2023

I've seen this one twice, I think. Not majorly rewatchable, for me, but there were plenty of funny moments.
posted by Night_owl at 5:21 AM on July 18, 2023

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