REVIEW: Something Borrowed [2011]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 112 minutes | Release Date: May 6th, 2011 (USA)
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director(s): Luke Greenfield
Writer(s): Jennie Snyder / Emily Giffin (novel)

“Don’t Blame Cameron Diaz”

I really must have seen a lot of bad films recently because I genuinely enjoyed Something Borrowed. All its romantic comedy tropes, its lame attempts at making the distinct white and black hats into gray, a litany of obvious tells showing who in fact loves and belongs with each other, and even the epilogue to try and smooth out the last remnants of blow-out—I had fun with it all. Maybe I was just in a good mood. Maybe I can’t help myself from being charmed by Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski. Whatever the reason, I laughed a lot and I didn’t once feel ready to fall asleep. And that’s something I can’t say for many movies lately.

A tried and true formula, Luke Greenfield’s first non-TV feature since The Girl Next Door isn’t close to as fresh or original. It’s a not so subtle look at the whole pithy question of whether ‘Bros’ come before ‘Hoes’ or vice versa, this time with a wedding thrown in. Goodwin is the lucky damsel caught in the middle of a love triangle six years in the making, all started because neither she nor the groom-to-be Dex (Colin Egglesfield) had enough guts to tell the other how they felt. As Law School study buddies, Dex and Rachel were a perfect match. Ambition, sense of humor, modesty, and a complete lack of self-worth were all synchronized between them. So, when the wild and crazy best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson) enters the picture, there is nothing standing in her way to steal the good-looking guy across the table—least of all two unrequited loves.

So we enter on the night of Rachel’s thirtieth birthday. Quiet, repressed, and never one for flashy exploits, Darcy’s surprise party is more for Darcy than the guest of honor. But this is how their friendship has been since the beginning. Full of one’s brazen lack of inhibitions and the other’s constant acquiescence no matter the self-anguish, the bubbly blonde always won while the sad-smiled brunette wondered ‘what if?’ It was no different with Dex, but the relationship had been a staple for so long that it was never second-guessed. Rachel simply saw her past crush as just that—a funny anecdote to tell after a few beers with the man on the receiving end of those feelings. And while she should have expected it because it is so blatantly written on his face, his admittance of the same throws her for a loop. Not so far, though, that they don’t wake up the next morning together in bed, fifteen missed calls from his fiancé later.

Therefore the film should more appropriately be titled Something Stolen. Every wedding needs that superstitious borrowed item, but either way you look here, Dex is most certainly the spoils of grand larceny. Whether the girl wearing white down the aisle at the end is Rachel or Darcy, the truth of the matter will be that ‘she’ stole ‘him’. This is why the film is about the Maid of Honor and not the bride, because it is she who knows all the details and indiscretions on both sides and she who must come to grips with it all. Will she be strung along as her love and best friend marry or will she stand up for herself and for once go after her own happiness? Will he kowtow to his father’s ideals of what their family should represent or follow his own heart and dreams, forsaking the two million dollar home waiting as a wedding gift? Will it be friend or lover?

Fortunately for the audience, this decision never seems as important as it probably should. I say fortunately because the answer has been written before the opening credits even roll. Instead, Jennie Snyder’s script from Emily Giffin’s novel allows us to enjoy all the antics occurring in the weeks before the wedding. Who gets who can wait because there are more important punchlines yearning to cause the laughter they deserve. And it all starts with Krasinski’s Ethan. The former co-prom date of Rachel and Darcy, current psychological punching bag for the latter and confidant for the former—he is the voice of reason sitting on Goodwin’s shoulder. But he’s not asking her to do the right thing; he wants her to finally do something for herself. In order to drive that point home, however, he must use all the snarky advice he can muster as an outsider looking in.

Hounded by a love interest of his own in Darcy’s annoying friend Claire (Ashley Williams), he becomes the comic relief for every single scene of the film. Steve Howey’s Marcus tries to steal some thunder—and does at times with his caveman equivalent to charm—but is constantly overshadowed. I don’t know how Krasinski continues to do it film after film since his delivery is almost too sarcastic and too beholden to the fact he is acting, but he does. It is his Ethan who says all the things we are thinking in the audience and remains the impartial player who wants nothing more than to see his best friend happy for once in her life. He is our stand-in to tell the characters just how clichéd and obnoxious they are being and instead of coming off gimmicky, he helps us give in to the story.

And while his antics during a heated game of badminton do steal the show, it is the dynamic between Goodwin and Hudson’s Salt-n-Pepa team that needs to work to keep this house of cards from toppling. There is enough chemistry between Rachel and Dex to make us pull for the switcharoo, but we need the love bonding Rachel and Darcy to be as strong for us to believe the difficulty of that outcome. I’ve never been a fan of Hudson and this helps the film work because her character is so vain and easy to hate. Her first scene makes you pray something will slap her smile off her face, but with that must also come a reason to accept Goodwin’s conflict. I give full credit to the “Big Love” beauty for pulling it off, never ceasing to amaze in how her emotions actually made me believe she loved this selfish ‘friend’. It’s a struggle that shouldn’t work due to the genre alone, but Goodwin won me over with her smile and as a result I left the film with it intact.

[1] KATE HUDSON as Darcy and GINNIFER GOODWIN as Rachel and in Alcon Entertainment’s romantic comedy ‘SOMETHING BORROWED,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by David Lee.
[2] (L-r) JOHN KRASINSKI as Ethan and GINNIFER GOODWIN as Rachel in Alcon Entertainment’s romantic comedy ‘SOMETHING BORROWED,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
[3] (L-r) KATE HUDSON as Darcy and COLIN EGGLESFIELD as Dex in Alcon Entertainment’s romantic comedy ‘SOMETHING BORROWED,’ a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

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