Film Review: “Something Borrowed”

by Jason LeRoy on May 6, 2011

Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson in SOMETHING BORROWED

starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski, Steve Howey, Ashley Williams

written by: Jennie Snyder (screenplay), Emily Giffin (novel)

directed by: Luke Greenfield

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, and some drug material.

All I kept thinking while watching Something Borrowed, a serviceable but thoroughly uninspired rom-com, is that this is exactly why we need Bridesmaids. That review will come next week, but let me give you a little preview: Bridesmaids is a strong candidate for best comedy of the year, completely transcending/reinventing/reclaiming the concept of a “chick flick.” Poor Something Borrowed, meanwhile, probably had no idea it would hit theaters one week before a film that renders it utterly obsolete. But at least it’s coming out before rather than after.

Based on the bestselling chick-lit novel by Emily Giffin (who has a cameo in the film, sitting on a park bench while narcissistically reading one of her own books), Something Borrowed is the Manhattan-set story of Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), an all-work lawyer with zero self-esteem. Her lifelong best friend is Darcy (Kate Hudson), the shrieking, shameless, self-obsessed yin to Rachel’s meek, bookish, docile yang.

Darcy is engaged to Dex (smoldering soap opera vet Colin Egglesfield), a friend of Rachel’s from her law school days. Rachel always had a crush on Dex, but never believed he could be attracted to her. This despite the fact that he did everything but show up on her front door naked with a bouquet of roses balanced on his dick. Instead, Rachel pushed Dex into the all-consuming black hole that is Darcy, and since he evidently has no will of his own, he allowed himself to become her fiancĂ©.

As the film begins, Rachel is attending a surprise 30th birthday party in her honor. When the lights come up and the crowd yells “Surprise!”, we hear a terrible racket coming from something we cannot yet see. And then, the crowd parts and out screeches Kate Hudson, brandishing a giant pink feather boa like a machete, face scrunched into a grotesque mask intended to signify “I AM FUN!!!!” If only Hudson had accidentally galloped over a landmine or been struck by a stray sniper’s bullet in these opening moments, we could have all been spared a lot of anguish.

The first act of this film is barely watchable. It’s just a bunch of privileged douchebags who jet off to a big house in the Hamptons every weekend and generally behave loathsomely toward each other. The night of her 30th birthday party, Rachel and Dex share a drunken indiscretion. Each is thrown into a shame spiral about this, despite the fact that Darcy is clearly the worst and the audience knows Rachel and Dex are meant to be together.

Providing color commentary on all of this is Ethan (John Krasinski), Rachel’s platonic best guy friend, who makes the film a bit more bearable by calling out all the bullshit things that are happening and generally saying whatever the audience is thinking. But Ethan is no lamb either, behaving like an utter cockmonster to Claire (Ashley Williams), a girl he slept with and now intends to lie to and ignore. The film wants us to enjoy its mockery of Claire because she’s curvier than the other women onscreen, is prone to making “I’m a crazy girl!” faces, and doesn’t understand that a guy like Ethan would only ever sleep with her by accident. Meanwhile, the film’s male equivalent of Claire, gregarious and husky Marcus (Steve Howey), is ultimately celebrated as some kind of expert lothario. It isn’t funny.

However, this is that rare rom-com that actually improves as it continues. Rachel and Dex’s fling gradually evolves from a one-night stand to a full-blown affair, and Rachel finds herself living a double life: in one, she is realizing her dream of being with Dex, while in the other, she continues helping plan his wedding to her oblivious best friend. The film is far more successful as an adulterous melodrama than a cringing single-gal comedy, and I admit to being fully engaged by the third act.

Much of the film is carried by Ginnifer Goodwin’s honest, humane performance as Rachel, but this must be said: Goodwin is far too beautiful (and far too talented an actor) to continue playing neurotic single girls with no self-esteem who can’t believe a man could ever be attracted to them. She was also the bruised heart at the center of He’s Just Not That Into You. This needs to stop. She is better than this. As for Hudson, she actually won me over by the end. She is playing a knowingly obnoxious character, and she really goes for it: embracing every unlikable trait in Darcy with gusto and abandon. Egglesfield is mostly eye candy as the spineless, weak-willed Dex, and Krasinski nails his every zinger with his flawless sitcom-honed timing.

Something Borrowed isn’t a total lost cause, but I can’t exactly praise it. If you’re absolutely desperate for a PG-13 rom-com to see with your girlfriends this weekend, I guess you could do worse. Unless you’re sleeping with your girlfriend’s fiancĂ©, in which case you should probably see Thor.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom May 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

Like your review, very well written.

However I disagree with you where you say “you could do worse”….I don’t think you can. this film was mind numbingly predictable. For what it’s worth, here’s my 2 cents…

“Paint by numbers school of chick-flicks”: Something borrowed review – http://bit.ly/kbd5b4

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