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Friday, January 18, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Wear a pretty frock — to another movie

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 2 stars

"27 Dresses," with Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Malin Ackerman, Edward Burns, Judy Greer. Directed by Anne Fletcher, from a screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna. 110 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language, some innuendo and sexuality. Several theaters.

A stale romantic comedy with taffeta for brains, Anne Fletcher's "27 Dresses" is fun for only one reason — or, to be more precise, 27 of them. Jane (Katherine Heigl) is a serial bridesmaid, and she's got a closetful of rainbow-hued polyester to prove it: a shiny seaweedy-green sheath; a "Gone with the Wind"-inspired crinoline; a pink-and-yellow explosion of tulle (sort of a dress version of a tropical drink); a scary peach frock with ribbons dangling all over it like car-wash rags; a form-fitting lavender halter gown with a horrid little matching purse, like its demon seed. Costume designer Catherine Marie Thomas obviously had a ball whipping these things up — but alas, these dresses have way more personality than anyone else in the movie. You wonder if, after-hours when the set was dark, the dresses plotted to steal the movie from the actors. After all, they do have top billing.

Pretty much all of the humans in "27 Dresses" are ninnies. (In a battle of wits, those dresses would win.) Not the least of these is nice-girl Jane, who's been cherishing an unrequited crush on her dull boss, George (Edward Burns), for many years, despite the fact that he clearly sees her only as somebody who can pick up his dry cleaning. When George falls in instant and entirely implausible love with Jane's visiting sister Tess (Malin Ackerman), Jane dutifully helps plan the wedding, all the while ignoring Kevin (James Marsden, playing it snarky), a wedding writer (!) who thinks Jane's pretty adorable. Jane, of course, doesn't know that he's the writer whose "Commitments" column she moonily clips from the paper, as he writes under a different name. Oh, those crazy kids. Will they ever find love?

Well, if you can figure out how this story ends, you've probably got better things to do than watch "27 Dresses," such as sit at home and wonder how Jane, an executive assistant, can afford the fabulous Manhattan apartment — with closet space to hold all those dresses! — this movie gives her. (She must have the same realtor as Hilary Swank in "P.S. I Love You.") Or whether the delightfully ditzy Judy Greer, who gives the movie's liveliest performance as Jane's best friend, Casey, will ever get the leading role she deserves. Or whether Hollywood will ever make a great romantic comedy again. At this point, I'd settle for just a good one.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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