Based on the book of the same name, Something Borrowed tells the story of put-upon Rachel, played by Ginnifer Goodwin (He’s Just Not That Into You), and her selfish best friend Darcy, played by Kate Hudson (Bride Wars, How To Lose A Guy In Ten days, Almost Famous). Rachel meets hunky Dex (new boy Colin Egglesfield) at law school and too shy and downtrodden to believe that Dex fancies her, offers Dex to Darcy on a plate, who soon then get engaged. On the eve of Rachel’s thirtieth birthday, she drunkenly confesses her feelings to Dex: who, obviously, promptly shags her. Cue dilemma: should Rachel hurt her best friend because she is in love with Dex? The heavesome threesome, joined by Rachel’s friend Ethan (John Krasinski from Away We Go) plus giant man-child Marcus (scene-stealing Steve Howey) spend the next few months hanging out in the Hamptons, whilst Dex and Rachel agonise over his impending marriage.
I should have twigged that things weren’t quite right when I saw that the film was directed by relative newcomer Luke Greenfield (Animal). Something Borrowed attempts to comment on modern society’s obsession with marriage being a cure for all woes; but frankly I couldn’t have cared less if Dex had decided to marry a gorilla. As an exploration in modern ethics, Greenfield throws away the rulebook, instead championing a tit-for-tat approach to infidelity. It’s perfectly ok to cheat on someone if they a) might have cheated on you, b) are not very nice and c) you keep it a secret. Protagonist Rachel is a passive-aggressive cow, and Darcy although obviously selfish, doesn’t deserve this treatment. Yay, cheating is like, so very cool.
The cast play their parts dutifully: sitcom actor Egglesfield is a dead ringer for Tom Cruise circa 1990’s (before the aliens told him to get a brace and a taller wife), and Greenfield makes much use of his honey-honed abs. But are we supposed to believe this drooling idiot passed the Bar exams? I didn’t identify with his struggle and found him to be a smug dimwitted bastard and The. Most. Boring. Lead. Actor. Ever.
Goodwin’s Rachel is just as lame, spending the film in dreamy reverie. The spectacled sweetheart stereotype has been overdone, and if anything, Goodwin’s portrayal of Rachel as wide-eyed and simpering makes us inclined to sympathise with Darcy, the supposed villain of the piece. Hudson’s Darcy is a typical rich air-head, no less grotesque than anyone else; and never quite bitchy enough to have us rooting for Rachel.
That being said, Something Borrowed has a few redeeming features. John Krasinski improves anything he is in, and is adorable as sympathetic Ethan, the only vaguely sensible person in the whole shebang. Every muscle movement on his god-like face conveys a thousand emotions, plus he has excellent comic timing. The plot also has a modicum of originality; such as the flashbacks to Rachel and Dex’s law school days, and this natty little dance-off.
In the end, the problem with Something Borrowed is not the cast nor the set-pieces, it’s the direction. There’s a pathetically contrived script, very little romance or comedy, and I just couldn’t fall in love with either of the toe-curlingly bland protagonists. The depiction of ‘best friends’ was also unnerving. The characters readily lie, cheat and steal their way around a friendship whilst constantly bleating that they are ‘best friends’, breaking the patented ‘show not tell’ rule. Hillary Swank (of similarly awful P.S. I Love You fame) owns the film rights, so I am holding her partly responsible for this dross.
Nothing I say will prevent droves of women flocking to the cinema to be mindlessly saturated with this poison. I give it 1 1/2 stars for Krasinski’s appearance and the dancing alone. By all means see Something Borrowed if like me, you’re a sadist; but the viewing public deserves better.