Sweet­ness and light

A sparky per­for­mance makes this wed­ding con­fec­tion palat­able, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

27 DRESSES Di­rected by Anne Fletcher. Star­ring Kather­ine Heigl, James Mars­den, Malin Ak­er­man, Judy Greer, Ed­ward Burns 12A cert, gen re­lease, 104 min

SO­CI­ETY’S most un­pleas­ant jobs will not do them­selves. Some poor sap has to push aside block­ages in the colons of preg­nant cat­tle. Pro­fes­sional se­cu­rity staff must re­sist nausea while man­ning the bar­ri­cades at Katie Melua con­certs. And ac­tors, writ­ers and direc­tors will – whether we like it or not – con­tinue to work on wed­ding-porn come­dies.

Silk hats off then to Kather­ine Heigl and James Mars­den for mak­ing some­thing bear­able of the latest cake-and-con­fetti car­ni­val. No de­cent per­son would sin­cerely de­clare 27 Dresses a good film. The sweet­ness of its de­noue­ment could clog ar­ter­ies at 100 yards and the writ­ers’ taste for re­cy­cling Doris Day’s dis­carded set-pieces be­trays a sorry lack of am­bi­tion. But those two ac­tors bring such fresh en­ergy to the clichés that the film achieves a kind of cheap tran­scen­dence. That is to say: it’s stupid, but it’s funny (and nice).

If you’ve seen the poster you will know the en­tire plot. Heigl, the end­lessly sur­prised star of Knocked Up and Grey’s Anatomy, plays a New Yorker who, though blessed with charm, looks and good na­ture, seems doomed to re­main the un­mar­ried brides­maid at other peo­ple’s wed­dings. Mind you, she must ac­cept a cer­tain amount of the blame her­self. For some years she has been stupidly in love with her older, more bor­ing boss. (Ed­ward Burns is prob­a­bly not sup­posed to be old and bor­ing, but he is Ed Burns.) When the sparkier Mars­den turns up as a cyn­i­cal wed­ding correspondent, she re­fuses to shift her af­fec­tions un­til var­i­ous statu­tory comic con­ven­tions have been ob­served. Will they fall upon one an­other af­ter ac­ci­den­tally get­ting drunk? Does Bette Mi­dler have a gay fol­low­ing?

Writer Aline Brosh McKenna, who adapted The Devil Wears Prada, does not add many un­ex­pected in­gre­di­ents to the stew, but Heigl has just the right sort of brow – eas­ily fur­rowed – for the com­edy of frus­tra­tion and, aided by un­fussy di­rec­tion, she car­ries this feath­er­weight en­ter­tain­ment to some un­ex­pect­edly pleas­ing places.

You could do much worse.

Piece of cake: Kather­ine Heigl (cen­tre) as eter­nal brides­maid Jane, with Ed­ward Burns and Malin Ak­er­man as en­gaged cou­ple Ge­orge and Tess, and Ron­ald Guttman as mas­ter baker An­toine in 27 Dresses.

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