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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Having nicely established her big-screen credibility with the summer hit "Knocked Up," Katherine Heigl tries a little further "Grey's Anatomy" moonlighting on for size with "27 Dresses."
But while Heigl is terrific, this uninspired romantic comedy is considerably less so.
A tired pastiche of the 27-odd wedding-themed vehicles that preceded it, the film essentially slaps together all the stuff that worked so well the first or second time around, minus any of the original charm or verve.
That it manages to function at all is mainly Heigl's doing, but judging from the half-empty theater reserved for the picture's post-Christmas sneak preview, even her fans might get the sense that they've walked down this aisle many times before.
Heigl's not-so-plain Jane is the owner of those 27 dresses -- a perennial bridesmaid who has kept all of them, no matter how hideous -- squished into the closet of her already-cramped New York apartment with the hope of one day being the main attraction.
She has always been there for her friends and longtime boss (Edward Burns), for whom she has harbored an unrequited crush, but her charitable instincts are about to be put to the supreme test when her bratty, globetrotting kid sister (Malin Akerman) comes to town and proceeds to strike up an instant love connection with said employer.
Meanwhile, Jane also has been fending off the perpetual advances of a cynical writer (James Marsden), who, unbeknown to her, pens those Commitment columns in the New York Journal, which she has been secretly clipping out for years.
Will Jane finally find happiness with the right guy or is she destined for Bridesmaid's Dress No. 28? Does the devil wear Prada?
It so happens that the person responsible for the "27 Dresses" script is none other than "The Devil Wears Prada" screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, but in fashion world parlance, this one's a shameless knockoff.
Jerky boss? Check. Sardonic best friend? Check (played by Judy Greer). Scene in which everybody takes part in an impromptu golden oldie sing-along? Check. (Here it's Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets.")
Just as McKenna's script brings absolutely nothing new to the wedding movie table, matters aren't helped any by Anne Fletcher's flat, pedestrian direction. The former choreographer who made her directorial debut with the inner-city dance drama "Step Up," fails to lend this New York story (filmed extensively in Rhode Island) a much-needed visual shot of vitality.
While Peter James' camera clearly loves Heigl and the actress looks to have a promising motion picture career ahead of her, "27 Dresses," with its recycled sentiments and empty gestures, won't be the one to build on that "Knocked Up" momentum.
Here, she and Marsden do what they can to work with a chemistry that feels dictated rather than organic, but at the end of the day, they're hopelessly stuck with hand-me-down material that is really beginning to look and feel its age.
Jane: Katherine Heigl
Kevin: James Marsden
Tess: Malin Akerman
Casey: Judy Greer
George: Edward Burns
Hal: Brian Kerwin
Director: Anne Fletcher; Screenwriter: Aline Brosh McKenna; Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman; Executive producers: Bobby Newmyer, Becki Cross Trujillo, Michael Mayer, Erin Stam; Director of photography: Peter James; Production designer: Shepherd Frankel; Music: Randy Edelman; Costume designer: Catherine Marie Thomas; Editor: Priscilla Nedd Friendly.