by Mel Valentin
Adapted from Emily Giffin’s chick lit bestseller, "Something Borrowed" is everything we’ve come to expect and, for some, love, and for others, hate, about romantic comedies. For the former, the formulaic nature of romantic comedies is the equivalent of comfort food (pleasure in predictability, feel-good endings). For the latter, that predictability, not to mention the “path to personal fulfillment lies solely in romantic attachment” ethos, offers nothing except disappointment and maybe even disgust. Depending on which camp or tribe you find yourself in, by choice or coincidence, your reaction, positive or negative (or indifferent) to "Something Borrowed" is all but guaranteed.Competently directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door, The Animal, Right Hook) from Jennie Snyder’s adequate adaptation of Giffin’s novel, Something Borrowed centers on Rachel White (Ginnifer Goodwin), a junior associate at an unnamed New York City law firm and a semi-recent NYU Law School graduate. With two months counting down to the wedding between her childhood best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson), and Dexter “Dex” Thaler, Jr. (Colin Egglesfield), Rachel’s law school friend and study partner, Rachel gives in to her unconsummated desire for Dex (Dex reciprocates) at the end of her 30th-birthday celebration. They sleep together, but rather than come clean with Darcy about their feelings for each other, decide to sidestep the real-world consequences of their actions, Rachel to continue pining for Dex, Dex to marry Darcy.
"Another middling rom-com about infidelity, 10,357th in the series."
Awkwardly inserted flashbacks fill in Rachel and Dex’s backstory: their “meet-cute” moment in a Torts class, their near romance, and Darcy’s fortuitous entrance (for Darcy, not Rachel) into their lives on the night Rachel and Dex are celebrating passing their Torts law exam, a first-year rite-of-passage (i.e., every first-year law student takes Torts, along with several other courses, including Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Contracts, and Real Property). Reticent and risk-adverse by nature, Rachel and Dex refuse to acknowledge the non-platonic side of their relationship. A long courtship later (six years, apparently), Rex and Darcy are set to make their commitment permanent. Rachel’s other best friend, Ethan (John Krasinski), finds out their one-night stand, repeatedly attempting to convince Rachel to act on her desire (described as “wants” several times) rather than obligation. Ethan has a minor problem of his own, a stalkerish one-night-stand Claire (Ashley Williams) who won’t take no for answer, even when he pretends he’s gay (a plot device that should have been retired three-four years ago).
Minor complications follow, as they must (otherwise we’d have a short, not a feature-length film), including Dex’s parents, Dexter Sr. (Geoff Pierson) and Bridget (Jill Eikenberry). They function primarily as roadblocks to Rachel and Dex’s romantic relationship, semi-living embodiments of family obligation. Rachel’s obligations, to truth, to friendship, etc., are offset by Darcy’s selfishness and immaturity, making Darcy less likeable and, in the plot dynamics common to romantic comedies, the less root-worthy character. Darcy’s egocentrism by itself, however, isn’t enough for Snyder and Greenfield: they throw in an act of betrayal equal to or better than Rachel and Dex’s of her to, again, make her less root-worthy. Given that Darcy’s played by Kate Hudson, an actress who’s squandered promising talent for a slew of middling or sub-par romantic comedies, she was already less root-worthy.If "Something Borrowed" has a saving grace or two, it’s in Ginnifer Goodwin’s performance as Rachel. Goodwin gives Rachel more depth that she had in Snyder’s adaptation of Giffin’s novel. Goodwin consistently elevates the often banal dialogue to something approaching listenable and, once or twice, semi-profound. As the sidekick/best friend, John Krasinski has the best one-liners, delivered with the comic timing he’s honed on seven seasons of [i]The Office[/i], but he’s generally wasted in a limited role. Colin Egglesfield passably functions as rom-com eye candy/object of desire, but runs into difficulty during the lengthier dialogue exchanges, in part because Dex is written as less as a character and more like a dream object (his perfection is only marred by his unconvincing indecisiveness).
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originally posted: 05/06/11 23:00:00