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3 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Something Borrowed
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by Erik Childress

"You'll Want To Give It Back Pretty Quickly"
2 stars

While there have been a couple of bright spots on the romantic comedy scene, the kind of half-hearted response to them from critics suggest that this is a genre that has finally worn us all down. Even when good ones come around like James L. Brooks' How Do You Know and Ivan Reitman's No Strings Attached, the inability to embrace them from the outset suggest either people expect more from these one-time top-of-the-world comic masters or they are afraid to make the commitment to a type they wish would just go away. So here we are a few months later after romance on film has had to survive through Adam Sandler, a couple reboots (Arthur, Beastly) and a lackluster Titanic-wannabe with an elephant. Something Borrowed might seem like "the one" after sifting through that rubble, but once you get to know it a little better even the guys in the audience are likely to feel as frustrated as the women out there who keep waiting to have that trigger pulled.

In law school, Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) got lucky when she was seated next to Dex (Colin Egglesfield), a handsome, genuinely likable and unassuming chap to which she formed an instant friendship with. The pair never addressed their obvious chemistry and on the evening of finals celebration, Rachel's lifelong best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson), shows up and immediately jumps at the chance to draw Dex's attention to her. Rachel lets her attraction to him fall by the wayside. Dex allows the flirtation to happen. Sometime later he is engaged to Darcy and Rachel has to watch it all from the sideline as the Maid of Honor.

Rachel gets an unexpected birthday present though after she drunkenly reveals the crush she once had for Dex. They leap into the sack and now each are so confused about their feelings and whether or not to pursue them that they just act awkwardly while he continues his relationship with Darcy. This includes routine trips into the Hamptons where the trio are joined by Rachel's best male pal, Ethan (John Krasinski), who is the only one with the vocal capacity to lay out the scenario to her. On the other hand, even he cannot keep himself away from Darcy's clingy friend, Claire (Ashley Williams), whom he bedded once and now must pretend to be gay in order to ward off her attempt to be more than friends with benefits.

Rachel has that in Ethan, although not by the modern definition. Other than being just a nice guy to hang with, he's a benefit to the audience in being the only one with any stones to say exactly what WE are thinking. By comparison, Dex is like a unich with something stuck in his throat. We can all appreciate the effort in avoiding confrontation, especially if it involves hurting another human being. Looking at Dex's options though, only an idiot would behave the way he does in sabotaging his own happiness.

Attraction or connection aside to Darcy, which shall be addressed, the maddening screenplay by Jennie Snyder (adapted from Emily Giffin's novel) starts the excuses by giving Dex an ill mother (Jill Clayburgh), who as the film leads us to believe, may just drop dead if he calls off the wedding. The reasonable possibility of a fiance swap with a personality trade-up is never offered because Dex is also given a father (Geoff Pierson) who tells him point blank that their family doesn't do things like that. Not that we know anything the family does do. So we're left with Dex, destined to be a purse-holding, shopping bag-carrier for Darcy who can't even tell off his dad to fight for Rachel. If she perhaps had another suitor in college, Dex's hesitation might have been more understandable. But this is a dude who looks like he could row crew and have any girl he wanted, so naturally the screenplay has to dig for ways he can't take the next step on a gal that falls into the "cute" category for Hollywood leading ladies, but the definitively beautiful one for anyone with friggin' eyes.

Speaking of such, the whole Kate Hudson thing may have been cute at one time, but after a decade of dreadful rom-coms and forgettable dramatic forays, it has come to the point where critics would like to delete the paragraphs of praise that came with her performance in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. Maybe sensing that she has become a punchline associated with this genre, taking the role of Darcy in Something Borrowed might be easy to label as a self-parody of the way audiences view her now. That would be a generous assessment and one that must arrive on the backend of one of the most dispicable characters these films have ever seen. Darcy is a loathsome, hypocritical, attention whore (with a side trip into slut) with no perspective provided on why anyone would want to be her friend. Childhood chums grow apart all the time from distance, life paths and also new friends who tend to treat us better. While we wait and pray for Rachel to tell off her own personal Vida Pierce, Krasinski appears so visibly agitated with the whole story that he practically breaks character to get his friend to move on.

Like a character out of a horror movie, Darcy might have you yelling at the screen as well. Or maybe it will be Dex or Claire or man-child Marcus (Steve Howey), who half-heartedly represents that people are not always the sum of their obnoxious outer persona. Director Luke Greenfield did a much better job with the thinly-disguised Risky Business update, The Girl Next Door. Any moral objections to a romance between a teenager and a porn star could at least blend into a film a wee bit darker in tone than the motivations of his characters here. Ginnifer Goodwin has a glowing presence that she has brought to TV's Big Love & Ed, but has yet to find a film role that understands she can be the most likable person in the room. Krasinski also does nice work that benefits from actually being the most likable person in the film. There is even an honesty to Kate Hudson throwing herself into the abhorrent designer shoes of Darcy. If only there was that sort of honesty to examining or debunking the faux complications of people dishonest with themselves. Cause by the end of Something Borrowed, the collective withholding of true feelings is enough to make an audience want to pull the trigger on something else.

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originally posted: 05/06/11 14:00:00
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User Comments

4/03/12 Colin Firth Picture so bad I thought I was in it. 2 stars
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  06-May-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Aug-2011


  DVD: 16-Aug-2011

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