Always a bridesmaid...

Boy meets girl, boy gets rejected by girl, boy secretly writes newspaper article about girl, boy and girl get trashed and sing “Bennie and the Jets” at a bar in upstate New York. 27 Dresses is the perfect off-kilter love story, tailor-made for its gloomy January release in between the warmth of Christmas and the romance of Valentine’s Day.

Jane Nichols (Katherine Heigl) is organized, dependable, and uptight — what Carnegie Mellon students would call “ambitious” — which makes her the ideal bridesmaid for her soon-to-be married friends (approximately 27 of them). Laid-back, confident Kevin Doyle (James Marsden) is a newspaper journalist who covers weddings for the fictional New York Journal under the pseudonym Malcolm Doyle. The two meet at — shocker — one such wedding, when Kevin rushes to Jane’s aid after she is trampled by a stampede of women trying to catch the bride’s bouquet.

The majority of the movie shows Kevin shamelessly propositioning Jane to no avail. Little does she know that Kevin doesn’t want to get into her pants, just her closet. He’s decided to propose an article on the “perpetual bridesmaid” — i.e., Jane — to his boss to further his career.

In a strangely, almost inappropriately, intimate moment, Jane eases off on loathing Kevin for enough time to agree to model all 27 dresses for him in her apartment. Apparently, Jane attends a disproportionate number of bizarrely themed weddings, because she patiently, if not hysterically, explains the details of the “cowboy wedding,” “the underwater wedding,” and “the Gone with the Wind wedding,” among others. Kevin takes pictures, which later accompany the article that he writes without Jane’s knowledge. She doesn’t find out until the morning after the two end up drunk in a bar, performing a rousing rendition of the 1970s Elton John and Bernie Taupin hit, “Bennie and the Jets,” after which the two snuggle up for a quickie in Jane’s car.

Side note: Jane’s rejection of Kevin has to do with the fact that she’s in love with her boss, George (Ed Burns). Unfortunately, Jane’s younger sister, Tess (Malin Akerman) drops into town and sweeps George off his feet by telling elaborate lies (i.e., she’s a vegan when she actually loves burgers, she adores dogs when she’s actually allergic to them, etc.) while Jane fumes silently in the background.

I saw the movie with my own younger sister, a true romantic for romantic comedies. We felt bad for Jane — until she exposes Tess for who she really is at the couple’s engagement party, after which they call off the wedding (at which point I should have leaned over and whispered, “I’d never do that to you!” But… you never know). We cheered when, in an unexpected turn of events, Jane gets the chance to score with George — and turns it down. Fortunately, in a predictable but anxiously awaited climactic ending, we learned that nice, cynical girls don’t always finish last… and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

27 Dresses was written and directed by two chick flick experts, Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Anne Fletcher (The Wedding Planner). As a female, I feel partially responsible for keeping the romantic comedy genre in business and rentable en masse at Blockbuster, but that’s not why you should see this film. The plot moves quickly, the main characters are quirky and dynamic, and the movie takes some surprisingly unexpected turns — but nevertheless lives up to its promise to be a classic romantic comedy with a scathingly predictable ending.

And, last but not least, we got to see some pretty swanky apparel. Call me unromantic, but I maintain that the best part of the film is the 27 dresses, not the hackneyed love affairs that end up stealing the show.