27 Dresses Anne Fletcher

27 Dresses Anne Fletcher
Pity poor Katherine Heigl. Okay, sure, she’s smart, lithe and gorgeous, but otherwise home girl just cannot catch a break. She was left at the altar in Grey’s Anatomy (actually, not "left” so much as "widowed”), saddled with some inconveniently fecund schlub in Knocked Up and now almost literally is "always a bridesmaid” in 27 Dresses.

Full of awkward exposition-as-dialogue and recycled shtick from the Wedding Crashers/My Best Friend’s Wedding/The Wedding Planner complex of rom-coms (white people at an Indian wedding? Stop, my thighs!), 27’s uncomfortable first act force feeds us the low-down on Heigl’s not-so-plain Jane. A semi-pro wedding planner/fixer and go-to bridesmaid — hence the titular satin’n’taffeta horrors choking her closet — the saintly Jane is too obsessed with greasing the skids for everyone else’s dreams to face up to, let alone act upon, her own.

Soon enough though, two new arrivals drop in to upset her quietly self-abnegating applecart. First, fellow wedding circuit fixture Kevin (James Marsden), an outwardly cynical wedding sceptic who (unbeknownst to Jane) pens the rapturous wedding columns that she (unbeknownst to him) worships like Holy Scripture. Improbably, as he is an Abercrombie & Fitch stud made flesh, but not unpredictably given genre conventions, she despises him on sight.

Worse, enter Tess (The Heartbreak Kid’s Malin Akerman), Jane’s glamorous, coddled-younger-sister-in-a-china-shop, who, in the wink of a batted eyelash, gloms onto Jane’s boss and secret unrequited crush George (Ed Burns, cashing a cheque between Brothers McMullen rewrites). From here, only those with the severest form of narrative dyslexia will fail to see where this ship is headed.

Will Jane plan her sister’s wedding in the dress, in the location and to the guy she’s always dreamed about? (Spoiler number one: yes.) But will she find the spunk, finally, to speak up for herself and for all that is right and romantic and true? (Spoiler number two: yes.) Can she look past superficial incompatibility and recognise her real one true love? (Spoiler number three: no.) Am I kidding about number three? (Spoiler number four: yes.)

Despite the predictability and the frequent lapses in decorum ("Caulk” sounds like "cock,” who knew?), there is actually lots to like here. Heigl, as unlikely a romantic doormat as you’ll ever find, is funny and appealing to an otherworldly degree. Marsden, continuing his well-advised shift from wooden action figure (X-Men) to goofy chick-flick Romeo (Enchanted), is loose and winning. Even Burns tones down the oily amour-propre to kick in some unobtrusively effective supporting work.

There’s no great pride in surrendering to 27’s crassly manipulative charms. But there’s probably no great honour in resisting them either. (Fox)