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'27' romantic comedy clichés

In Anne Fletcher's '27 Dresses,' Katherine Heigl is always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

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Jane (Katherine Heigl) tries on one of her '27 Dresses.' The film, which also stars Edward Burns and James Marsden, is built out of an assortment of familiar romantic comedy tropes.

Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/20th Century Fox

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The romantic comedy "27 Dresses" will work best for people who have never seen a romantic comedy. If you have, you might find it amusing to tally up the steals – I mean, homages.

What's unusual about "27 Dresses" is that it doesn't only filch from good movies, it also poaches the bad stuff. This is a movie that was practically inspired by "The Runaway Bride."

Still, it's January, folks, and any studio picture released this early in the year is almost, by definition, a dud. And so I'm pleased to report that "27 Dresses," while it isn't good, exactly, is no stinker. By January standards, it might even be said to be OK.

The main reason the movie is tolerable to sit through is Katherine Heigl, who plays Jane Nichols, always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Jane's mother died when she was young, and ever since then she's been the perfect helper to everyone from her younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) to her large supply of marriageable female friends – 27 to be exact.

She's also the perfect assistant to her wealthy boss, George (Edward Burns), who runs an outdoor equipment company. In a shocking plot development, we discover that Jane is hopelessly in love with George, who, of course, is clueless about her infatuation.

Enter Kevin (James Marsden), a roguish newspaper columnist who, in the real world, would be writing nasty gossip but here is consigned to his paper's "Weddings" section. He has a soulful flair for writing up wedding announcements even though he claims to be cynical about marriage. In another shocking narrative twist, it turns out that he's really a cream puff when it comes to romance.

The object of his ardor is, of course, Jane, who at first can't stand him. He's almost creepily persistent, though. They end up bonding in a roadhouse bar after their car breaks down in a storm and proceed to wail Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" while the improbably ruly patrons gleefully chime in.

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