THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Watching Something Borrowed makes for an unusual experience. You see Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin on the DVD box, and you understandably expect yet another generic, middling Hollywood romantic comedy. In fact, about half the film is exactly that. The other half is a little smarter and more perceptive. Both halves coexist together. Consequently, the movie is neither as dumb as you might think, nor as smart as it could be.
Goodwin plays Rachel, a sweet-natured, ambitious single woman in her 30s who has always been overshadowed by her best friend, the blonde, sexy, outgoing Darcy (Hudson). After a rare night of heavy drinking, Rachel sleeps with Darcy's fiancee Dex (Colin Egglesfield), on whom she's had a crush ever since they attended law school together. (Rachel had her chance with him, but deemed herself unworthy and encouraged him to date Darcy.) The act reveals that he's had dormant feelings for her as well. Neither of them wants to rock the boat or hurt Darcy, and so they try to pretend that nothing has happened. That's easier said than done, though. As their feelings grow stronger, so does the remorse. Rachel's longtime male confidante, Ethan (John Krasinski), attempts to offer moral support, yet grows frustrated watching her “yield” to her superficial pal.
In the realm of female-driven comedies, this is a fairly edgy premise. Sleeping with your best friend's future husband is a serious offense. At times, the story (based on Emily Giffin's novel) treats it with some maturity. Rachel feels genuine guilt over her actions. At the same time, she knows her feelings for Dex are far deeper than Darcy's are. She simply can't bring herself to admit that she deserves something more than her friend does. Ethan, meanwhile, is a character every romantic comedy should have; he keeps telling Rachel how stupid she's being and encourages her to quit sulking and do something about it. He is a voice of reason in a genre that seldom has one.
While Something Borrowed obviously wants to explore themes of competitiveness and betrayal in female friendships, it seems to feel compelled to hit pre-programmed chick flick beats at regular intervals, right down to the obligatory scene where the characters lip sync to an oldie while dancing around the living room. There are also the requisite farcical “complications” that are here only to forestall the inevitable resolution of the plot (Darcy shows up at Rachel's apartment while Dex hides, Dex arbitrarily gets cold feet about being with Rachel, etc). Moments such as these detract from what's legitimately interesting in the story. Every time it seems as though the film is going to say something meaningful about the intersection of romance and friendship, it backpedals into silly stereotype.
The performances are pretty good, with Goodwin again projecting immense likeability, while Hudson nicely straddles the line so as never to turn Darcy's superficiality into outright phoniness. Krasinski gets in some good wisecracks, and a supporting turn from Steve Howey, as a horndog with surprisingly good “game,” is quite funny.
All these folks deserve a better movie, though. Here, they've only got half a good one. The romantic comedy has become the most lamentable genre in Hollywood today. Ninety-nine percent of them play identically, right down to the lame soft-pop soundtracks and the predictably “swoon worthy” rain-soaked confessions of love between characters. Something Borrowed seems like it wants to be more than that, yet can't shake the cliches. Too bad. This could have been something special.
( out of four)
Something Borrowed will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray combo pack, and via digital download on August 16.
As with the main feature, the bonus material is a mixed bag. “Something Old” is a short featurette in which the stars talk about what it means to hit your 30s. It's okay, but none of them have any great insights. “What Is Something Borrowed?” is even shorter and less substantive, as the actors again appear to discuss the expression as it relates to weddings. “Inside Something Borrowed” is one of those deals where the actors describe to you the movie you have just watched and reveal what they hope it conveys to audiences.
Some of the other stuff is better. “On Location Tours with Emily Giffin” finds the author touring New York City on a bus with some of her readers. You really get a sense of what her books have meant to fans, and she comes off as a down-to-earth woman. “Marcus' Guide to the Ladies” has Steve Howey returning in character and offering up some amusing dating advice for guys who want to be players. Among his pearls of wisdom: always be on the lookout for someone hotter. The disc also has a surprisingly humorous gag reel, notably especially for a botched shot in which a New York passerby heckles the film crew.
Finally, there are a small handful of deleted scenes, totaling about seven minutes, that were wisely excised. Some of them go into more detail about the past relationship between Ethan and Darcy. Another is a painfully bad attempt at farce, in which Dex is mistaken for an intruder as he tries to sneak into the Hamptons home the group is sharing.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are typically excellent. A digital copy comes included in the pack.
Something Borrowed is rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, and some drug material. The running time is 1 hour and 53 minutes.