Jane has a special closet in her apartment filled with 27 dresses so ugly that only two things can be true: (1) they were all bridesmaid’s dresses, and that means (2) all 27 brides assured her that they could be shortened and worn again.
Jane (Katherine Heigl of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Knocked Up”) is a natural caretaker. After her mother died when she was a child, she took care of her sister. She has taken care of 27 different brides, helping out with wedding details that have her over-stuffed day-planner bristling with yellow sticky reminders. In her job, she takes care of her boss, George (Edward Burns), the too-good-to-be-true mountain-climbing CEO of an impeccably politically correct corporation. She makes sure he gets his breakfast burrito and picks up his dry cleaning. In her few spare moments, she sighs with love for George or sighs with hope over the weekly write-ups of the most romantic weddings in the Sunday paper. Her dreams are of white dresses, tossed bouquets, and big cakes with lots of icing. Her reality is…dreams.
Just as she decides to let George know how she feels, urged on by her best friend Casey (the marvelous Judy Greer, wasted in an underwritten role as the movie’s designated sleep-around friend), Jane’s globe-trotting model sister Tess (Malin Akerman) arrives and she and George immediately decide to get married, with guess who taking care of all the cake, flower, and decoration details. All of this is so distracting that Jane barely has time to notice the killer smile of Kevin, a cynical reporter (the marvelous James Marsden, almost-wasted in an under-written role that seems left over from an old Clark Gable character). For no reason except the demands of the increasingly flimsy plot, Kevin is required to keep a couple of obvious secrets.
Heigl is the real deal, with girl-you-wish-lived-next-door imperishable but accessible beauty, appealing, endearing, vulnerable, with understated comic timing. Marsden, too, has charm to spare. Both hold our interest and keep us rooting for them even when the script does its best to get in the way. Do we really need yet another scene with characters letting go by getting tipsy and singing 80’s songs? Akerman (“The Heartbreak Kid”), in her second role in five months as a selfish, irresponsible, and all-around nightmare bombshell who impulsively gets engaged, struggles with an impossible task as she tries to be both over-the-top obnoxious and sympathetic at the same time. What does work is Heigl and the dresses and the fact that, like Jane, most of the audience loves to get misty at weddings. Watching this film is like waiting to catch the bride’s bouquet, more anticipation than fulfillment.
Parents should know that this film includes some strong language and drinking (getting drunk portrayed as empowering). There are some sexual references, and characters have sex with people they just met. There is a non-explicit (and alcohol-induced) sexual situation. There is some comic violence, including slaps.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Jane loved weddings so much and why it was hard for her to say no. Why didn’t Kevin tell Jane about his assignment sooner? Have you ever been a bridesmaid or an usher or would you like to be one?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Runaway Bride, Picture Perfect, and My Best Friend’s Wedding.