...But instead of one
there’s a flock of look-alike dresses, all fitting (painfully)
differently on each attendant...
What we can learn from 27
The problem with bridesmaids
dresses is that they’re overcute. Especially the ones from the ’80s—you
know what I’m talking about. Go to your closet, way in the back where
you hid them and take a close look. Puffy sleeves, dropped waists,
mermaid curves with one-shoulder straps. And the colors—peach,
turquoise, metallic blue. Yes, there wasn’t one woman in the audience
of the movie 27 Dresses who didn’t wince just a
little when Jane Nichols (Katherine Heigle) opened her overstuffed
closet and dragged out her monstrosities.
We vowed, right there in the
theater, to run home and take a match to our own closets full of bygone
trophies. But the very element that made this movie’s premise
sympathetic and even endearing is also the reason this movie doesn’t
work. Why it is . . . in a word . . . overcute.
Or, in another word: Sappy.
I really wanted 27
Dresses to be sweetly romantic. I love Katherine Heigl and
James Marsden, who plays hero Kevin Doyle. The truth is, it’s not their
fault the movie is syrupy, to the point of eye-rolling sappiness.
No, I blame the dresses.
Think about it. A bridesmaid
dress is made to accentuate the bride’s dress. But instead of one of
them, there’s a flock of look-alike dresses, all fitting (painfully)
differently on each attendant. It’s overkill of theme and color. It is,
in writer’s terms, overwriting. Overwriting is simply saying the same
thing over and over, in different ways, with different words, using
different angles . . . you get the picture. Sort of like wedding
27 Dresses is
cute and might have worked if it weren’t for the long, “preachy” scene
where Jane’s sister, who up until this point not only has been a
materialistic ditz, but also hasn’t earned our respect at all, delivers
what is supposed to be sage wisdom to our beloved Jane about letting go
of things. But Jane already knows this. She’s let go of the man she
loves, her hopes and dreams, and even her decency. We get it—she has to
live her own life. We don’t need it spelled out for us. First key to
staying out of the Sap: Don’t preach it to us.
Remember the day when you looked
at the V-necked lime green bridesmaid dress you were to wear, knowing
that in it you would look like pasty dough-girl or an anemic whelp?
Mine was a burgundy
scooped-back dress that made me
look like I’d
undergone surgery only hours before. Most of us said, “Okay, I’ll wear
it.” The rest of us kept our mouths shut. Because that is what good
bridesmaid do. And this is what the movie does.
In a leap that fit the movie
plot but not the character, Jane decimates her sister’s rehearsal
dinner. Why? Because the formula demanded it. She (like us) could have
said, “Hey, I won’t wear that! I would look horrible in that.” Sappy
movies don’t listen to the characters, they make them wear the dresses,
because it follows the rules. Key two to staying out of the Sap: Stay
true to your character.
Finally, have you ever stood,
dressed for show, with the bride at the altar, knowing that she and the
groom didn’t belong together? That despite his current pledges you were
pretty sure he had made a pass at one of the guests the night before at
the rehearsal dinner? Or worse, that the bride didn’t love the groom
like she did her high school sweetheart, and was headed for
disappointment? We want to wave them off, scream, “They don’t belong
together!” But because they look so good in their white and black, we
smile and hold the flowers.
were Jane and Kevin right for each other? Yes, he was a romantic at
heart, and she made him see that, but what did he do for her? He mocked
her and zeroed in on her issues. Does that show he would care for her?
That he would look beyond those issues and love her anyway? And what
does knowing him do for her? Just because they were the only two single
people in the cast does not mean they belong together. Just because
they fit into the dress and the tuxedo doesn’t mean they should be the
bride and groom. Final hint to staying out of the Sap: Give the hero
and heroine a reason to belong together.
I really wanted to like this
movie. I certainly loved the premise. And, I still love Katherine and
James. In fact, I’m going to give them another chance . . . as long as
no dresses are in the movie.