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27 Dresses (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/29/2008

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/23/2008

It's been really dark around here lately. First, we had all of the Oscar nominated films, most of which dealt with very bleak and depressing topics. And last week seemed to be nothing but horror films (although all of them were pretty good). It's definitely time for something light and fluffy. Many critics dismiss these films as lacking in merit, but there's nothing at all wrong with settling down with a movie which simply wants to tell a story and doesn't want to push an agenda onto the viewer. The film in question today is 27 Dresses and it's exactly the kind of fun for which I was looking.

27 Dresses introduces us to Jane Nichols (Katherine Heigl), who may just be one of the nicest people on the planet. Jane has a history of assisting friends with their weddings, and she never turns down a request to help with something, even holding the bride's dress while they go to the bathroom. As the film opens, we watch Jane go back and forth between two weddings...because she couldn't say no to either bride. Kevin Doyle (James Marsden) notices Jane's odd behavior and attempts to ask her about it, but she doesn't like his snide attitudes towards weddings. We next see Jane at work with her best friend, Casey (Judy Greer). Jane is in love with her boss, George (Edward Burns), but she's never been able to tell him. Jane's flighty sister Tess (Malin Akerman) arrives in town and accepts Jane's invitation to a work-related party. Once there, Tess meets George, and much to Jane's shock, the mutual attraction is immediate. Soon, Jane is being called upon to be a bridesmaid once again -- so that her sister can marry George. While Jane attempts to deal with this crisis, Kevin (who has found her datebook) keeps calling her, and Jane soon learns that Kevin has a secret. Will Jane be able to keep her sanity with everything going on around her?

Make no mistake about it, 27 Dresses is a chick-flick. It certainly has all of the earmarks of a chick-flick. It's got weddings, it has a "trying on dresses" montage, it has sister sibling rivalries, it's got the whole "dream man vs. bad boy" thing happening. Yes, it's almost as if screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna took a "chick filck" checklist and made sure that she was covering as many of the bases as possible.

But, none of this should suggest that the movie is unoriginal, overly familiar, or that it doesn't work, because, as far as "chick flicks" go, 27 Dresses is a solid movie. The movie comes from the writer of The Devil Wears Prada, and as with that film, McKenna is able to take an idea which seems common and put a fresh spin on it. We've all heard the term, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride", but this is the first time that I can remember seeing a movie about it.

The movie works due to the fact that it deftly balances the serious topics and the comedy. Now, 27 Dresses isn't a drama, but it does a good job of exploring the fact that Jane can't refuse a request for help from anyone and how that ties into her past with Tess. This is tied into how Jane's view of herself is holding her back in life. We also learn that Kevin is very good at a job that he doesn't really like. These scenarios are offset by the film's funny and clever dialogue. I'm happy to say that 27 Dresses rarely reaches for slapstick (this isn't a Matthew McConaughey-Kate Hudson movie) and it relies heavily on some nicely witty quips from the characters. Despite the fact that this is a romantic-comedy about weddings, there is a heavy dose of cynicism here, and this permeates the language, creating some very funny lines from the characters. (The movie also wears its PG-13 rating with pride, and while this isn't a cuss-fest, there is a liberal use of profanity here, especially when Jane wants to make a point.)

The movie also benefits from its wining cast. Katherine Heigl seems to be everywhere these days, but that over-exposure doesn't keep her from being good here. The nice thing is that she plays Jane as very real. There are going to be points in the film where you don't like Jane very much, and Heigl is asked to play a whole range of emotions, which she carries off nicely. She also has that quality where men find her attractive and women want to be her friend. As with any supporting role she tackles, Judy Greer is great as Casey, and she has some of the best lines in the film. James Marsden comes out from behind his "Cyclops" shades and ditches the goofiness from Enchanted, and is charming as Kevin. Malin Akerman (who really is everywhere these days) has mastered the role of the spoiled bitch. Much like his performance in One Missed Call, Ed Burns is a bit too low-key here.

I normally don't get overly excited about "chick flicks", but I like the actors in 27 Dresses and I was actually sort of looking forward to this one. And, it didn't disappoint. While it makes sure to include all of the "chick flick" prerequisites, the movie also shows a great deal of charm and wit. It brings in some semi-serious issues, but never strays too far from the light material. After a deluge of serious and scary movie, 27 Dresses was the perfect thing to brighten my day.

27 Dresses is available off-the-rack on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear here, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The depth of the image is very impressive, with even close-ups having a near 3-D look. The colors look fantastic, and one has to only watch the dress montage to see that every tone is spot-on. I detected no artifacting or video noise here and the image was never overly bright. The disc offers a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides crystal clear dialogue and sound effects with no hissing or distortion. The stereo effects are good, most notably in the busy street scenes. The wedding parties provide some nice surround sound. Overall, the audio is very good, but this is still a romantic-comedy, so there's nothing spectacular, save for a thunderstorm scene, which provides enough surround sound separation and subwoofer thump to remind us that we're listening to a lossless track.

The 27 Dresses disc contains only a few extras. "The Wedding Party" (15 minutes) is a featurette which profiles director Anne Fletcher and each of the main actors (and characters) in turn. There's also a lot of talk about the story and the themes in the film. This started off as a making-of featurette, but besides the on-set footage, we don't learn much about the actual "making" of the movie. In "You'll Never Wear that Again" (7 minutes) costume designer Catherine Marie Thomas and the filmmakers discuss the creation of the 27 dresses of the title. "Jane's World" (5 minutes) has production designer Shepherd Frankel discusses the look of the film and the design of the various weddings seen in the film. "The Running of the Brides" (5 minutes) is a mini-documentary about the one-day wedding dress sale at Filene's Basement. The disc contains three DELETED SCENES, which run about 4 minutes. The first one is pointless, but the other two are good, included a good scene with George's dog.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long