27 Dresses / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | January 20, 2008 | Comments ()
Updated: Crow-eating goodness here.
Due respect to my colleague Claude, who — in this year’s (Sh)It list — appropriately took aim at cultural elitism, but if there’s something I find even more odious than intellectual snobbery, it’s willful benightedness. If “hipster dickwad” is on one side of the spectrum, there is an equally offensive crustbag on the other side of the spectrum who tags someone a hipster dickwad as a means to justify and/or disguise his own obstinate stupidity. There’s certainly something to be said for vegging out to some simple-minded, though entertaining, cinematic atrocity like Transformers (I got some empty pleasure out of it myself), but to restrict your cultural diet to Bruckheimerian sewage while calling a Junophile a pretentious asshole is no less objectionable than looking down your nose at NASCAR nation from your perch in front of your overplayed copy of Metropolitan. Those who consistently criticize hipster dickwads for sticking their heads up their pretentious asses and failing to recognize that a film’s highest objective is “to be entertaining” often fail to recognize that intelligence and entertainment value are not necessarily mutually exclusive, a notion they stubbornly refuse to test because, well, it’s a lot easier to bathe in stupidity and call someone a close-minded, elitist assbag than it is “suffer” through some high-minded pleasures, of which there is a scarcity these days thanks to the spending power of the deliberately ignorant.
But, thankfully, for the purposes of reviewing 27 Dresses, soccer moms, academics, greasers, stoners, jocks, band geeks, hipster dickwads, and anti-intellectualists alike can all follow the rainbow to the same meadow, hold hands, and dance around the same pot of gold, because Rainbow Assassin’s first headliner is neither smart nor entertaining; indeed, it’s not only painfully dull but perversely idiotic, and it seems to take immense pleasure in its vacuity. In fact, I find it strangely ironic that Massengill Mouth would talk shit about her character in Knocked Up, herald grrrrl power in magazines upon which she’s splayed spread eagle on the cover, and then turn around and take this part, because nothing screams feminist like a pathetic beauty whose completeness depends on the existence of a man in her life. Hell: All the strong women I know sleep with the newspaper’s wedding section under their pillow, too. Oh sure: A career-minded, responsible shrew who tsks tsks a dope-smoking man-child stuck perpetually in his adolescence is a mark against women, but a wedding-obsessed, chick-flick stereotype is just the sort of role model women are looking for! Right? Hixlespilk! Katherine Heigl is Satan’s vagina, and there’s hypocrisy santorum spilling out of her every orifice (H/TPaddyDog). I’m all for outspokenness, Katie, but how about backing up your goddamn words with actions instead of sliding into a bed of cash and fucking your brains out. At least the Four Starletards of the Apocalypse are honest about themselves — they own their whorish, drunken crazy — but Heigl wants to be a tabloid star and eat her cake of righteousness, too. Sorry, lady — you’re about as transparent as a wet T-shirt. Oh, and you may be pretty, but you’re about a sexy as a late-night doorstep fire left by empty-bowelled vandals and you’ve got all the goddamn acting talent of an empty wastebasket. Face it, BowKiller: You’re a placeholder; this week’s “next Julia Roberts” and next year’s 30-second clip in VH1’s “I Love the Oughts.”
The movie itself concerns Jane (BowKiller herself), a bridesmaid 27 times over who — when the movie opens — is shuttling back and forth in a cab between two weddings, where she’s serving as bridesmaid in both, an honor that necessitates that she help the brides by lifting their dresses while they take a leak and, later, angling for the wedding bouquet. After the weddings, Jane leaves her day planner in the back of a cab, where Kevin (James Marsden) — a wedding journo (ha!) — recovers it and decides to run a story on her. However, Jane doesn’t know that Kevin is her favorite wedding columnist, so she doesn’t yet know that she should be in love with him. In fact, Jane is in love with her inoffensively bland boss, George (Ed Burns — so, there you are), who she tries to woo by sacrificing her own needs (and dignity) in service of his every present and future whim, i.e., serving as his sycophantic doormat. However, when Jane’s sister, Tess (Malin Ackerman) arrives for a visit, George falls immediately in love with her (too bad, so sad) and — surprise — Jane is asked to be Tess’s maid of honor.
While Tess pretends to be a lot of things that she’s not (dog lover, vegetarian, a decent actress) to impress her fiancé, Jane holds her tongue and prays that the world will tilt on its axis and shove George into her plaintively outstretched arms. Meanwhile, Kevin is researching that story on Jane under the guise of covering her sister’s wedding, though perhaps Jane might have gotten a fucking clue when Kevin asked her to model all 27 of her bridesmaid dresses. Cue music montage which, shamefully, is the highlight of the entire film, a slapdash pastiche of “What Not to Wear” clips featuring Heigl in all her splendor. The lowlight, however, comes a few scenes later when Kevin and Jane engage in a drunken sing-song of “Bennie and the (fucking) Jets,” one of the most embarrassing moments in a genre that isn’t short on embarrassing moments. Inspired by Bernie Taupin’s poetry, Jane and Kevin fuck; misunderstandings push them apart; and, of course, an electronic day planner eventually brings them back together in purgative bliss.
27 Dresses is a crummy amalgamation of My Best Friend’s Wedding, Nora Ephron’s leaky discharge, and a goddamn wedding idiom — pure wedding torture corn. Aline Brosh McKenna’s (The Devil Wears Prada) script borrows from every romantic comedy you never wanted to see, a cut-and-paste job thrown into a blender and plastered with Heigl’s nicotine-stained teeth, which gleam like fucking Chernobyl. It’s all very missionary predictable, though I must admit a certain affection for Marsden, who — along with Judy Greer, as Jane’s best friend — briefly, though mercifully, distract some attention away from The Heigl, who otherwise lights up the screen like a cruise missile, destroying everything in her radiant wake. There may be a few frillies who find some guilty pleasure in 27 Dresses, but that ain’t no guilt you wanna be saddled with, homeskillet — it’s enough to drive your ass to drink. And, if I have to sit through another Heigl headliner, you can hold a barstool open for me.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.