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27 Dresses & r & & r & by ANN M. COLFORD & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & s 27 Dresses predictable? You bet. Is it derivative and formulaic? Indeed. Do the characters break new ground and move beyond stereotypes? Not so much. Is it fun to watch?





Yes.





Surprise.





The leads -- Katherine Heigl as Jane, the perennial bridesmaid, and James Marsden as Kevin, the cynical wedding writer -- both show good comic timing, and some of their sparring echoes the longstanding tradition of screwball comedies. Judy Greer is also sharp as Jane's wisecracking best friend.





Poor Jane (Heigl), who obsessively organizes her friends' weddings and lives to read the treacly weddings write-ups in the newspaper, is madly in love with her boss, George, who is of course clueless. Just as she's about to confess her feelings, in waltzes her sexy baby sister, Tess, who steals George away with one wiggle of her spaghetti-strap mini-dress. Meanwhile, Jane crosses paths with the writer of those sentimental wedding articles (Marsden), who turns out to be a sharp-tongued cynic with a heart of gold.





At first, she can't stand him. Of course they'll end up together.





Amid the fluff, the film also skewers -- subtly, mind you -- the excesses of the American wedding business, dubbed the "Marriage Industrial Complex" by Salon.com last year.





The DVD includes conversations with the director, actors, the designers of the wedding outfits and the sets, plus a fun report on the annual wedding-dress sale at Boston's Filene's Basement -- an event known as the "Running of the Brides."





Reviewers critiqued the film for showing a woman who romanticizes weddings and marriage, and yes, Jane does that, but she grows by the film's end. She doesn't grow far, nor does she reveal unexpected depths -- but, hey, remember the lessons of Screwball Comedy 101 and you'll be close to the mark.





27 Dresses isn't thought-provoking, nor does it provide an inspiring model for life. But for two hours in front of the small screen, you could do worse. Grab a couple of girlfriends, make a big bowl of popcorn, make sure there's chocolate handy (and maybe a glass of wine), and kick back for a fun chick flick. (Rated PG-13)

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