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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

27 Dresses

How many dresses is enough? Most women I know think dresses are something people in New York City wear, particularly drag queens. Here in Vermont a frock is as welcome as a black fly at a picnic in August. Actually, maybe ~ just maybe ~ in August you might get away with wearing a sun dress as long as the wearer promises to show her true North Country grit and not shave under her arms or wax her legs while donning it to prove her allegiance to “true Vermonter” ways. If there’s a hint of shorn skin peeking out from those pits, it’s a sure exposure of one’s heritage as a Flatlander, one of those people native Vermonters view as evil interlopers who have dared to move into the state in the past 300 years to bring civilization, dental hygiene and their tax dollars along with them. I am one of these proud Flatlanders, and I make no excuses for it.

I have actual honest-to-God dresses created by makers other than grandmothers using Buttrick patterns or that were “store-bought” at K-Mart, though I have about as much use for them here as I do for Berlitz lessons in Maori. Still, I’m ready should I ever get the call to be a Matron of Honor, assuming I am asked to fill that role rather than the job of bridesmaid. I don’t think I’d want to be a bridesmaid again. I did it twice, and I was blessed enough to not be asked to wear anything horrific exactly 50% of the time, but that means the odds aren’t good that the next time around I wouldn’t be struck down by the blind goddess Polyestra and I might be forced to wear one of her hideous concoctions in powder blue or eye-popping magenta.

Look no further than the dazzling collection of eyesores in Kathryn Heigel’s closet in her latest movie,
27 Dresses, and you will understand exactly what I mean. It is almost cruel what her “alleged” friends in the film have forced her to wear to assert their superiority over her good looks at their own wedding ceremonies, not that one can blame them. My name may be Clamz, but I’m not into eating the clam, bearded or otherwise, if you get my drift, but Heigel (Knocked Up) is a fine looking woman and I’m not sure I’d want her in my wedding party. Oh, who am I kidding? If she was, I’d make her wear the veil coming down the aisle, and it would be made out of burlap if she absolutely had to be included, and that would only be if she had donated to either my husband or me a vital, life-sustaining organ within the previous six months or so. Any time before that and all bets would be off (unless she was family and I was in the will. And I’d seen the will. Notarized and dated. And there were more than at least five zeros sans decimal point in the bequest to moi (not that I’m greedy, but, hey, my therapist stresses my need to set limits with people so why not start now?). Perhaps I’ve digressed, but I just want to get the word out for future reference to those who need to know.

There is something about the bridesmaid “scene” that is demoralizing and no one knows that better than Heigel’s Jane, who, after “being there” 27 times in the past three years for her friends finds that she has become a perpetual doormat for everyone she knows, bending over backwards to make their “special day” perfect while never having time in her own life to even date. Of course, Jane doesn’t really want to see anybody outside of her office because she is hopelessly devoted to her boss, George (Ed Burns; The Holiday). George, unfortunately, is too busy living in his own world to notice Jane as anything more than the “perfect assistant” as he calls her even though her feelings are far from subtle. Perhaps if he got his nose out of the clouds once in a while he might see how in love Jane is, but the only time he seems to let his gaze come into focus is when his eyes fall upon Jane’s younger sister Tess (Malin Ackerman; The Heartbreak Kid), who is in town visiting for a week or two.

You can probably guess where this is headed already. George falls hard for Tess, and then, just to complicate matters, a “Commitments” reporter named Malcolm (James Marsden; Enchanted) who works for a major (fictitious) New York newspaper that Jane reads religiously, wants to do a feature on George and Tess and their whirlwind love affair and resulting engagement. As a part of his process, he insists on interviewing the bride-to-be’s sister, and, in doing so, Malcolm uncovers her collection of 27 Dresses from her previous stints as the bridesmaid of the year. Suddenly, his interest in subject matter for his article changes, as does his personal interest in interviewees. It’s going to be an uphill climb for Malcolm, though. You see, he already had met Jane and tried to date her a few times using his real name, Kevin, and she gave him nothing but rejection. When she realizes that Kevin and Malcolm are one and the same it’s a cinch she’s not going to respond positively.

The laughs are fast and furious in this sophisticated comedy from writer Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada). The cast is top-notch on all fronts, and the relationships ring true on so
many levels. Whether the movie is stressing the sisterly bonds between Tess and Jane, the many facets of Jane and George’s changing dynamic as the film progresses, or Jane’s personal growth facilitated by her interactions with Kevin, each point-of-view makes sense for the character and yet still manages to be funny and poignant at just the right moments to keep you caring about each as individuals and not seeing any of them as a one-dimensional villain of the piece.

Special kudos have to be paid to someone most of you have never heard of before, and that is Catherine Marie Thomas, the costume designer on this picture. While Ms. Thomas has had a long career in film (The Brave One;
A Prairie Home Companion), this is her piece d'resistance as each and every one of her 27 Dresses will leave viewers either laughing or slack-jawed in their hideousness, yet not one of them is so over-the-top that you won’t believe some bad-taste bride would have the cojones to force their attendants to wear these things down the aisle.

While 27 Dresses wasn’t meant to be scary, I did find a few moment blood-curdling, but these were completely off-screen. From my seat in the top row at the Essex Cinemas I was mortified to hear a few women in the audience actually cooing with admiration at some of the bridesmaids’ dresses; at one point one voice even said she wished she could get the “Gone with the Wind” dress for her wedding. You need to go see this for yourself and judge. Either she is completely insane or she really does have one heck of a great sense of humor. Let’s hope her bridesmaids do. And her groom.


Anonymous said...

I resent the comments you have made about native Vermonters in your blog on 27 Dresses. I am one and how dare you stereotype Vermonters as just a bunch of smelly hicks. And if it weren't for "your type of people" aka Flatlanders, Vermont wouldn't be what it is today. You're suppose to be critiquing a movie, not the people of the state YOU decided to move to.

Clamzilla said...

Yawn. If you are so proud to be a Vermonter, then why not use your name, Anonymous?

As for "critiquing a movie", sorry, but this blog is about my take on life and how whatever I find at the movies that week reminds me of certain things. You did get one thing right though. If it weren't for people like me who chose to move here, Vermont wouldn't be what it is today. Thank goodness.

Thanks for your comment though. We have lovely parting gifts on the way out. ;-)

Anonymous said...

If you're so proud of your views, why are you hiding behind a fake name like "Clamzilla"? You are posting your insults and comments on a professional businesses website (which I know is not your). I'll be sure to contact the owner/manager.

Clamzilla said...

You poor thing. You have just proved my point. Actually, my "fake name" is nothing more than a screen name. My real name is listed under my profile at the top of the page.

And, as much as you might like to think otherwise, my web page is not affiliated with the theater, though they did ask to link to it because they found it humorous and they understand satire, something that is apparently far and away above your head.

By the way, if you question the way "real Vermonters" feel and treat Flatlanders and potential new residents to our state, I'd suggest you spend a few weeks just monitoring the Vermont page at craigslist.org and watching the rants & raves section. Inevitably, someone will bring up the subject of moving to Vermont and you'll understand exactly why I feel the way I do. The response from the "real" Vermonters is absolutely heinous.

Anonymous said...

"I'm a child of the 70s who actually believed we would all grow up to embrace a Utopian society in which all the races, genders, political parties, and religions of the world would embrace a respectful, equal and supportive attitude towards one another." If you believed this so much, why don't you practice it?!?!

Clamzilla said...

Do you just not finish reading anything you start? Because "(n)ow I'm a beleagered middle-aged cynic who rarely leaves the darkness of a movie theater except to watch "my stories" each day and feed my cats, who I like a whole lot more than most people."

In other words, I grew up, met a whole lot of manipulative, evil people of all races, genders, political parties, and religions and realized that basically most people are only in it for themselves.

Now, Punkin, I don't know what in the world blew up your skirt so incredibly hard, other than me making a few offhand jokes at the expense of old-time Vermonters, but nobody is forcing you to read my ramblings, so unless you've got something to say about a movie or a comment to make other than to make me your crapfest of the week, I've got oodles of other things to do.

I'm sorry if I've hurt your feelings. It's never my intention to do so with what I write, but you shouldn't take things so seriously either.