“Hot Hate Sex” and Elton John’s Revenge in 27 Dresses


Is Elton John actually considered cool these days? And if so, is Almost Famous to blame? In Cameron Crowe’s self-mythologizing 2000 picture about fictional rock band Stillwater, the music of Bernie Taupin’s mouthpiece figures in a key scene. Riding in the Stillwater tour bus the morning after some bitter in-fighting, the hungover rockers (and their groupies and their roadies) all temporarily come together again as they sing along to the chorus of “Tiny Dancer.”

That scene was intended to be ironic, and yet in the eight years since Almost Famous‘s release, I have heard “Tiny Dancer,” on the radio and in bars, more frequently than I ever used to. So it is hard to imagine, without the precedent of that scene, a similar moment in 27 Dresses, a romcom starring Katherine Heigl released last January and now available on DVD. Heigl plays a perpetual bridesmaid who falls for a Manhattan journalist (the reliably milquetoast James Marsden) writing an article about the wedding industry. Initially, Heigl resists Marsden’s overtures (who wouldn’t?) but she becomes enamored of him when he joins her in a public sing-along of “Benny and the Jets.”

Hardly a masterpiece (screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna appears to have gotten her ideas, so to speak, from a magazine), 27 Dresses isn’t half as bad as its reviewers suggested. While Heigl and Marsden skip hand-in-hand down a cloying yellow brick road, Judy Greer, as Heigl’s BFF, provides a welcome dose of pessimism. More appealing than either of the leads, Greer explains that the benefit of remaining single is that she can continue to have “hot hate sex with random strangers.”—Benjamin Strong