The makers of this adaptation of Emily Griffin’s novel are much too modest. It not only contains stuff borrowed from loads of past romantic comedies, but lots of elements that would have to be classified as absurdly old. And while there’s little new here, it’s certainly bad enough to make you feel blue.
“Something Borrowed” is essentially about a triangle involving sweet Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), her hard-driving best friend Darcy (Kate Judson), and Dex (Colin Egglesfield), an almost supernaturally handsome fellow Rachel became platonic friends with while both were studying at Columbia Law School. As we’re told in innumerable flashbacks, Rachel was infatuated with Dex (and he with her), but made the mistake of introducing him to Darcy, and by the time the story begins those two are preparing for their imminent nuptials, with Rachel serving as maid of honor. But it doesn’t take long for her and Dex to declare their real feelings for one another and fall into each other’s arms, even as the wedding approaches. What to do? Naturally Rachel has a loquacious best buddy (John Krasinski) who advises her to follow her heart and make Dex dump Darcy for her.
The rest of the picture is consumed with the on-again, off-again dalliances between Rachel and Dex and by Darcy’s preparations of the wedding. It’s a situation that’s supposed to be edgily amusing, one supposes, but instead it comes across as simply unpleasant. It’s possible to envision that the premise could have served as the basis for a Warner Brothers women’s melodrama of the 1940s—and it probably did. But cast as a quasi-romp it leaves a bad taste.
It also doesn’t help that the characters are so unsympathetic. The doe-eyed Rachel is presumably the one you’re supposed to be rooting for, but as Goodwin portrays her, she’s sort of a doofus who lets others walk all over her. Then there’s Dex, who in Egglesfield’s hands comes across as a guy who has little to offer to any woman besides his wealth and good looks. He’s a weakling who can’t resist familial pressure or be honest with anyone. Still, it’s hard to believe that he or anyone else would fall for Darcy, who’s played by Hudson as such an obnoxious boor that anyone—even put-upon Rachel—would certainly flee from her as quickly as possible. The most likable character is Krasinski’s, but “The Office” star can’t rescue him from being no more than a plot device. A gag involving his claiming to be gay to escape the unwanted attentions of a friend of Darcy’s is a particular bust, and he’s treated cavalierly toward the close, when after declaring his long-submerged love for Rachel (making him as dumb as she was), he simply disappears.
Technically “Something Borrowed” is a professional job, with fine cinematography that makes good use of the New York backgrounds; but there are entirely too many shots of rolling waves every time the crew goes to the Hamptons for a weekend to gambol on the beach.
A couple of incidental items. What’s the basis for the bit about Darcy being so impressive for being admitted to Notre Dame? The script acts as though it were the most difficult thing in the world to get into the Indiana school. Any knowledgeable academic will tell you that’s sheer nonsense.
Then there’s the incredible product placement in the movie. Maybe it’s just that “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” has made us more aware of the practice, but “Something Borrowed” is riddled with surreptitious ads, most notably for Heiniken. Barely five minutes go by without one of the characters ostentatiously hoisting a bottle of the brew screen-center, or cases of the beer being glimpsed in the background. You might think the picture was entirely funded by the corporate subsidies that must have been involved.
One can imagine a drinking game going along with the eventual DVD release—chug one every time you see a Heiniken bottle. Any player would be blotto before the halfway mark. That’s something I can’t recommend, but an intoxicated condition might be the best one in which to watch this terrible movie.