“Something Borrowed”: Return to owner, and fast

Ginnifer Goodwin and Colin Egglesfield put a pretty face on wimpiness in "Something Borrowed."

Never, not once, has it failed: Every time I resolve to soften my heart to romantic comedies, to give this fluffy genre one more chance, a lemon like “Something Borrowed” comes down the line and reinforces the distaste anew. “Something Borrowed” is bland. It’s derivative. It’s wimpy. And Ginnifer Goodwin’s wig rivals Kate Bosworth’s “Superman Returns” rug in sheer obviousness.
 
Right from the start, though, the problem is not the wig, or even the plot (uninspired at best); it is the lack of sympathetic or halfway interesting characters. In all of the film’s running time, there emerges exactly one person worth rooting for, and he’s left hanging, written out solely to suit the purposes of the maddeningly unsatisfying conclusion. Here’s the setup: Sensible Rachel (Goodwin) and flighty Darcy (Kate Hudson) have been best friends since childhood. Their old pal Ethan (John Krasinski) has stuck close too, though he long ago wrote off Darcy as a selfish, high-maintenance shrew (yahtzee!). Darcy’s engagement to Dex (a “meh” Colin Egglesfield) presents a rather large problem for Rachel, who’s been in love with him since law school. Neither ever mustered to courage to make a move back then; naturally, now that the timing is lousy, they start a boring affair — boring because both Rachel and Dex are spineless. Rachel won’t force him to choose between her or Darcy, and Dex won’t call off the wedding because — here’s the cherry on the sundae — he thinks it is the only antidote to his mother’s depression. Right. That’s one for the books.
 
Three other characters get sucked into this stupid, pointless love triangle: the affable Ethan, Ethan’s oddball stalker Claire (Ashley Williams) and Marcus (Steve Howey), Dex’s loutish best friend. Claire, who wears rainbow-print dresses and has that Margot-Kidder-in-the-bush look about her, is almost too giddy and clueless to seem human. She’s a caricature. While Marcus is a caveman, at least he’s not a poser: he says what he thinks, even when what he thinks is really, really dumb and offensive. Ethan, thanks to Krasinki’s rumpled regular guy appeal and comic timing, emerges as a likable chap — perceptive, easygoing, funny. He advises Rachel to make Dex to show some backbone. But even Ethan proves himself to be something of a weenie: Instead of taking his own advice, he lies to Claire about being gay and runs away from her every chance he gets. Like all the other characters (except Marcus) in “Something Borrowed,” Ethan wallows and avoids; he can’t muster the gumption to go after what he wants or dismiss what he doesn’t. In actual life, that’s mildly annoying; in a romantic comedy, it’s totally insufferable.
 
Jennie Snyder’s meandering script and the lackluster acting make the absence of agreeable characters even less tolerable. Snyder seems determined to make sure the characters spend as much time floundering as possible. Whining and pining must be used sparingly to create romantic tension; Rachel and Dex flounder so long in “Something Borrowed” that by the conclusion we’ve all but lost interest. How can two people this indecisive possibly generate any heat, much less build a lasting relationship? Darcy and Rachel’s supposed “sisterhood” is just as baffling because Darcy is a self-serving flake, and Rachel is blind to her narcissism. Goodwin and Hudson don’t have much chemistry, either. (Note to Kate Hudson: Please stop taking these vapid parts.) Egglesfield isn’t given much of a role to work with, but he’s vanilla — a leading man in looks only. Howey gets some laughs with his neanderthal behavior, though he’s not given enough to do. Goodwin, who’s far too talented an actress to keep doing derivative drivel like this, tries hard and occasionally tugs at our hearts (barely).
 
It’s Krasinski whose wisecracks and amusing facial expressions brighten the film. Whatever part he takes, Krasinski can’t put a lid on his laidback charm and sincerity; it breaks up the dullness in “Something Borrowed.” And any film that makes the choice between the lively, funny, attractive guy and the model-hot but gutless one look like a hard choice is an insult to the audience’s intelligence. Worse, it’s a waste of time. 
 
Grade: D-
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9 Responses

  1. ‘Return to owner, and fast’ Oh you are such a wordsmith Meredith, I laughed out loud just reading the title, which I’m sure is more humor than what you’ll find in this movie! I love reading reviews of rom-coms because they’re usually more entertaining than watching the films, especially well-written one like yours.

    This one looks horrid even from the trailer, sorry but I can’t stand Kate Hudson, especially in such an insufferable part like this one. Colin whatshisname is just TOO good looking to be believable to be possessing a law degree. I mean, of course there are gorgeous-looking lawyers, but he’s almost too perfect looking that he’d have to be a fantastic actor to be taken seriously. Sadly, I don’t think he is.

  2. Can we put a ban on Kate Hudson? Seriously, can anyone name a good movie or performance that she’s done… that isn’t “Almost Famous”?

    • @ Ruth — Thanks! I’m particularly proud of the title. It came to me in a flash. And you and I share a hatred of Kate Hudson. Except for “Almost Famous,” I’ve never liked her in anything. Plus, I hate that Ginnifer Goodwin — who has a perfectly adorable short haircut that suits her face — had to wear a dumb wig. Because all women in romantic comedies have to have long hair, apparently. Even if it’s ugly fake long hair. Grrr.

      @ Steven — I will support this ban. Since “Fool’s Gold,” which I watched part of on a plane flight to Seattle, I’ve avoided any movie she’s in. Period. I only saw “Something Borrowed” because my mother picked it.

      • Don’t get me started about the hair thing. I have a similar haircut like Ginnifer which I’d like to think suits my face, too. But according to Hollywood it’s not pretty or romantic enough, it’s funny that no matter how ‘advanced’ we seem to think we are, people are still so darn old fashioned!!

      • I’m glad you said that, because Goodwin’s wig was one of my MAJOR beefs with the film before I even saw it. She’s a beautiful woman with an edgy and bold haircut that completely suits her personality and face shape, and I don’t understand why a wig is considered better than her natural hair (which is lovely). It makes me sad that she even agreed to wear the wig and cover up her own style. Not cool.

  3. Meredith, if you like Krasinski, try ‘Away We Go’. It’s a lovely little film.

  4. I swear, when I looked at the picture, I thought it was Tom Cruise… then I read the caption. I was still confused for about a second.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but, from reading your review, one of the main problems of the movie is that the filmmakers equate personality with complexity. In a desperate attempt to make the characters seem modern (so the young 20somethings like me can relate), they put in so many unnecessary drama. Like “Annie Hall,” simple can go a long way. Build the complexity as we get more invested in the characters. So even if they make a mistake, we still love them.

    Jim –I mean, Krasinski–needs to change things up. His smug thing is cute but it’s getting YAWN.

    • Much as I like Krasinski, I’d agree with that. I’d love to see him do something wildly out of character, like play a murderer or a cheating husband or something. He needs to prove that he has range, or he’ll get typecast as Ethan forever.

      There’s so much to hate about “Something Borrowed” that it was hard for me to organize this review. “Annie Hall” is a much better example of a smart romantic comedy. Hell, even “Love Actually” is better!

  5. The film seems to think that we will find something entertaining about Darcy just because she’s played by Kate Hudson. It’s hard to imagine a worse miscalculation. Just a plain old, terrible film that I couldn’t stand after awhile. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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