REVIEW: Something Borrowed, Something Blew
As horrific as Something Borrowed is, it's compelling in its own sick way. Watching it, I kept wondering: How will this dreadful group of self-centered people work out their asinine problems, most of which have been caused by their own willful stupidity and/or their inability to read the most basic emotions of the people around them? Hardly romantic and barely a comedy, Something Borrowed hovers in that damp gray region of movies that are often characterized as "cute," though it has barely enough character to stand up even to that bland adjective.
The major plot point of Something Borrowed hinges on the old "I've been in love with you since college, but I could never tell you!" routine. Poor, dutiful lawyer girl Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) has, since childhood, cowered meekly in the shadow of her dazzling blond best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson), who looks out for number one. Darcy throws a surprise 30th birthday party for her best pal, only to hijack the birthday toast by reiterating how totally, over-the-moon happy she is to be engaged to blandly handsome dullard Dex (Colin Egglesfield). Little does she know -- because she barely seems to know anything -- Rachel has been in love with Dex since they were in law school together. Darcy insinuated herself into their seedling romance and somehow ended up with the engagement ring; through it all, Rachel stood by meekly, saying, "Whatever."
But on the night of Rachel's party, after having a few drinks too many, she and Dex play kissy-face and land in bed together. The next morning, Rachel is mortified, believing -- quite rightly, no matter what Darcy's flaws may be -- she's betrayed her best friend. Dex is just confused, one minute pulling Rachel closer, the next pushing her away. She pouts nobly as, right in her line of vision, he gambols on the beach with his self-involved blond goddess. He sends lavish rose bouquets to Rachel's workplace, even as he caves in to his fiancee's every whim. Meanwhile, Rachel's platonic best guy pal, Ethan (John Krasinski), looks on with big puppy-dog eyes: You can pretty much guess what his problem is.
Masochism, bitchiness, adorable nose-crinkling and speeches along the lines of "I need to be who I am" abound in Something Borrowed. Directed by Luke Greenfield and written by Jennie Snyder Urman (and adapted the screenplay from Emily Giffin's novel of the same name, the movie pulls out all the stops in its quest for maximal cuteness: After an overnight tryst, Rachel awakens to find Dex staring right at her. "That's a nice way to wake up," she purrs, and I guess it is, if you're into the creepy sleep-watching thing. At one point Krasinski's Ethan (one of the few bearable characters here) responds to Rachel's endless hand-wringing by blurting out, "It's not complicated, he's being a dick!" Truer words were never spoken.
The movie hurtles blithely down its collision course, mowing down every clump of logic in its path, expecting us to care deeply about characters who are pushovers, manipulators, boobs and class-A jerks. Hudson gives the wickedest performance: Her character is the sort of woman who wraps every compliment in hurtful barbs. In a moment of faux-helplessness, she tells Rachel, "You're way smarter than I am -- book-smarter, I mean," and her eyes narrow into tiny, snakelike slits. Hudson cranks up the shrewishness, though she always stops safely -- too safely -- short of being completely hateful. But she's mildly fun to watch, unlike Goodwin, who blinks mechanically as a way of registering every emotion from sadness to confusion to joy. Something Borrowed is one of those romantic comedies that pretends to give the audience what it wants, talking down to it all the while. In the end, the allegedly sweet, cute girl wins the spineless, boring guy who's supposed to be a prize, and we all go home feeling happy -- or maybe as if we've just had our pockets picked. This movie giveth nothing, but it sure as hell taketh away.