27 Dresses

11 01 2008

27 DressesAt their worst, romantic comedies display an utter contempt for their target demographic, assuming that any woman seeking out a rom-com isn’t particularly interested in genuine wit or insight — it’s essentially porn for the girly set. (A similar argument can be made for the action genre, mind you, with the genders switched.) 27 Dresses, while still following the conventions of genre, nonetheless never feels like it’s pandering or condescending to its audience.

Katherine Heigl plays Jane, a woman obsessed with the idea of marriage despite living out the cliché of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” — she’s got all 27 bridesmaid dresses to prove it. She is, of course, secretly in love with her boss, the cool-but-bland George (Edward Burns), but when her superficial younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) arrives and cluelessly snaps him up in a whirlwind romance, Jane is inevitably called upon to plan their wedding.

Meanwhile, James Marsden is Kevin, a cynical journalist stuck writing for the sappy “Commitments” column in the New York Journal, and he sees writing a biting piece on Jane (the archetypal “lonely bridesmaid”) as being his ticket to gaining legitimacy. Ostensibly following Tess and George’s wedding, Kevin gradually gains Jane’s trust despite them both being philosophically at odds when it comes to the ethics of the so-called “wedding industry”.
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P.S. I Love You

26 12 2007

P.S. I Love YouHilary Swank is a talented actress, winning an Oscar not only for her performance in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, but also as the transgendered Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry. Why she’d choose to then star in such a tepid romance as P.S. I Love You is a mystery right up there with the meaning of Stonehenge and the reason why Travolta never made Battlefield Earth 2.

The film opens with a protracted intro featuring an argument between apparently-in-love couple Holly (Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) over a comment Gerry made to Holly’s mother earlier that evening. Rather than establishing how right for each other this couple is, this scene merely sets up the characters as being rather unlikeable and one-dimensional. The whole thing comes off as rather cliched.

After the opening credits, we find out that Gerry has since died of a brain tumour, and by the end of the first act, it’s been revealed that he’d created a scheme whereby Holly will receive a series of letters from him “beyond the grave” over the coming months. These letters, of course, are designed to ease Holly out of her grief and into a new life.
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Hope Springs

2 12 2007

Hope SpringsMike Nichols’ The Graduate was a great film — a classic, even — that was based on a novel by author Charles Webb. Hope Springs is also based on a novel by Webb, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this movie might be anything other than barely passable.

Colin Firth plays Colin, a British artist who arrives in the small town of Hope, Vermont after being unceremoniously dumped (or so it seems) by his fiancée, Vera (Minnie Driver). There he meets “free spirit” and part-time alcoholic Mandy (Heather Graham). Mandy’s unstable, erratic personality leads, of course, to Colin quickly falling in love with her.

But wait! Here comes Vera to confuse and tempt Colin away from the borderline-psychotic Mandy. What’s a guy to do?! Luckily, Vera is so shallow and one-dimensional that Colin’s decision is essentially made for him by the brain-dead screenplay.
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