Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed starts with a problem right out of the gate. Let’s explain the story first. Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) are best friends and have been so for just about all their lives. Rachel has just turned 30 and Darcy is engaged to Dex (Colin Egglesfield, doubling for Tom Cruise circa 1985) who went to law school with Rachel. Thing is, as these things must go, the passive Rachel never told the hunk Dex that she was madly in love with him because, well, guys like him aren't interested in girls like her, despite the fact that he never told her that he felt the same. Now he’s with Darcy, the loud, alcohol swilling, extrovert, but having doubts and no one knows what to do, especially after he sleeps with Rachel.

The problem is that Darcy is so insufferably stupid, selfish and vain that there is never one reason to honestly believe that Rachel would be best friends with her or Dex would want to marry her. The point of a plot like this is the tension created by the common moral dilemma of wanting what’s right for all of the characters but not quite knowing what that should be. In this case the answer is simple: Dex should tell Darcy the truth about Rachel and both of them should get the hell away from her as quickly as possible and live happily ever after.

But as the plot continues to twist and turn upon itself one realizes that not since Closer have three characters so thoroughly deserved one another. Something Borrowed is so clueless that it wraps all of this up into a what is supposed to be accepted as a cute little romantic comedy although it’s hard to laugh at people who are so dumb, so oblivious and just make you want to run up to them, grab them firmly by the shoulders and smack some sense into them.

There’s also a fourth character, Ethan, played by The Office’s John Krasinski who is a friend of Rachel, male, single, not gay and apparently only along for the ride to be charming support. Right. Krasinski could indeed be charming in his sleep and in turn walks away with the film, but apparently neither Ethan nor Rachel have seen any bad romantic comedies before because if they did they would recognize that whenever a name is cast in a major role, especially the fourth player in a love triangle story, they ain’t around to sit and watch from the sidelines. And if you consider that a spoiler you're giving the movie too much credit and yourself not enough.

But of course neither of them knows that, because nobody in this movie knows anything. The story, taken from the New York Times Bestseller of the same name, revolves around what Roger Ebert commonly refers to as the Idiot Plot in which twists and turns are laid upon one another despite the logical realization that if just one character would say one thing the entire story would crumble to pieces and a lot of headaches would be saved.

The movie was written by Jennie Snyder whose previous work has all been in TV, which makes sense as she constantly pushes the characters around into different directions with no real insight or clear vision of where any of this is going, except to build to a cliff-hanger before breaking for next week’s episode. We are therefore treated to sloppy, incompetent plotting. Take for example Ethan’s big scene, the only honest one in the entire movie, where he reveals something that should naturally take the plot into its logical conclusion, only to have him drop completely out of the film. But of course, God forbid any of these characters redeem themselves and their stupid, foolish actions and end up with the person they actually should be with.

In essence, for a story like this to work, which keeps getting more and more complex as each new revelation pops up, it needs to be tied around an object, which is something that keeps the story grounded and acts as its centre. The plot of Something Borrowed is woven around a ball of smoke which quickly evaporates as the film weaves an emotional tapestry around nothing at all until it arrives at a conclusion that I won't reveal but that I'll tell you is dead wrong. But hey, some people: if they don't know, ya can't tell 'em.


  1. I know this isn't a very original thought, but Kate Hudson has officially lost her Almost Famous points.

  2. Simon- I have a post in the works about this very thing.

  3. I think Simon's right -- whatever talent Hudson showed in "Almost Famous" is gone now. From now on, I'm implementing a rule not to see any movie where she's part of the cast.

  4. 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!