The Divine Secrets of the Eskimo Sisterhood in Something Borrowed
Something Borrowed is based on a 2005 work of chick literature by Emily Giffin. It was directed with extraordinary impersonality by Luke Greenfield (Rob Schneiders The Animal), and produced by Hilary Swank in collaboration, apparently, with the restaurant Shake Shackone of the lifestyle brands prominently featured in this tale of love and betrayal among New York Citys young and affluent.
Rachel White (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a successful single gal, though her face in repose is a frown, with creases starting to show at the corners. As the film begins, she walks into her own dirty 30th birthday party, thrown by her lifelong best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson). Among the guests are Darcys groom-to-be, Dex (Colin Egglesfield), and Ethan (John Krasinski), the comic-relief platonic pal.
Normally, Rachels the schoolmarm and Darcys blond and having more fun, but something is askew tonight. Maybe its Rachels shock at starting a fourth decade, maybe its Dexs pre-wedding jitters, maybe its the way Darcy leaves Rachel with the fond slur I just hate your shoes so much as she stumbles home earlybut Rachel and Dex go for a nightcap together, and wake up in the same bed.
In addition to giving them a guilty secret to conceal, this act shakes loose an avalanche of flashbacks. Before Darcy got Dex, he was Rachels study-buddy at NYU Law, and it seems their flirty friendship stopped just shy of a hook-up six years prior, when Rachel stepped aside for Darcy, as were told she always has. Ethans given the job of explicating that friendship dynamic to Racheland the viewer. Goodwins an appealing wallflower, and Hudson shows flashes of blithe, funny egotism, but they lack moments together that illustrate Darcys feminine gamesmanship in action. From the opening birthday-party scene, in which Darcy narrates a slideshow introducing the cast of characters, its clear that Something Borrowed finds it easier to tell us about relationships than to show us them under way.
For the rest of the summer, spent between Manhattan and the Southampton rental, Rachel and Dex carry on and off, hesitating to drop the bomb on Darcy. Dexs other big roadblock in breaking off the wedding are his stereotyped WASP parents, a neurasthenic mother and disapproving father who says things like, Its not the kind of people we are; wants to buy the newlyweds a Westchester manor; and presumably quashed Dexs dreams of being a teacherbecause he is having a career crisis on top of everything else. (A Happy Ending showing Dexs first day at some Bronx P.S. would be welcome.)
In other romantic complications, Ethan is followed to Southampton by a hopeful, puppyish old fling, played by Ashley Williamsa chewtoy for Krasinski, whose comedy always seems to require someone to cut. Still, Ethans a more appealing bachelor than Dex. Egglesfield has fine genes, but hes a limited actor playing a character that requires a vulnerability in order for us to forgive his frequent caddishness and constipated decisionmaking. Egglesfield cant transcend his guy-who-just-cut-you-off-in-his-convertible air; misting up over his family troubles, he registers as schemingly sensitive, looking to take advantage of any sympathy that comes his way.
The Something Borrowed is, of course, the premise, embellished from a 1997 Julia Roberts vehicle, My Best Friends Wedding. Befitting a demographically precise movie about second-chance nostalgia, Borrowed raids young professionals Clinton-era pop-culture memories. Dexs wildman pal, played by Steve Howey, resembles Mark McGrath, the middlebrow go-to bad boy in 1998. At one point, Rachel goes to check out a 90s cover band for the wedding, and were treated to meaningful renditions of Third Eye Blind standards; later, Goodwin and Hudson perform a Salt-N-Pepa dance number, rehearsed to perfection in distant youth. (This is the one moment they actually seem like symbiotic BFFs.)
The poster, featuring colorful little boxes with headshots of the stars, is nearly the same lazy design used to promote the superb, humane comedy How Do You Know last yeara disturbing example of insensate Hollywood selling its best and worst in the same package. If not the worst, this is at least the most dissembling. Its no coincidence that Something Borrowed features lawyer protagonists; while making a pretense of being a comedy of modern sexual ethics, the movie never asks a hard question without an answer prepared in advance.
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