Something Borrowed: Luke Greenfield’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Ginnifer Goodwin

Director Luke Greenfield takes a ham-fisted approach to the rom com with “Something Borrowed.” Following features like “The Animal” (2001) and “The Girl Next Door” (2004), this director seems at this point headed toward hackdom.

In the case of “Something Borrowed,” Greenfield just cannot get any fire going with this damp material. Scene after scene—starting with a surprise 30th birthday party for our heroine, lonely lawyer Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin)—falls helplessly flat.

Toward the end, there is one very funny scene involving a badminton game gone haywire in the Hamptons, but it is too little, too late. Rachel and her would-be beau, Dex (Colin Egglesfield), get most of the screen time but never connect.

Their predicament, which comes from a 2004 novel by Emily Giffin, is that Dex is engaged to Rachel’s best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson). Rachel introduced the couple and has regretted it ever since. Jennie Snyder Urman’s unremarkable screenplay asks us to suspend considerable disbelief and accept that Rachel and Dex never realized their mutual attraction years before in law school. Unnecessary and awkward flashbacks of the two studying together for months on end—practically drooling over each other in the library—do nothing but confuse the issue. These two are that clueless?

Uh yes. It is a serious problem for this story because Rachel and Dex become increasingly unlikable as the film moseys along: they consistently do the stupidest things anyone can think of—carrying on an extended affair behind Darcy’s back and so on—but they never manage stupid in any endearing way.

Goodwin and Egglesfield are cute but not that interesting to watch, especially not for a couple hours. Neither has the charisma or chops to carry a rom com—and when it comes down it, what is it but charisma, chops, and a decent script that can make a rom com sing?

To balance out the unlikable leads, we have Hudson in an extremely unlikable supporting role. Who would want to be with any of these three losers, even for a couple hours?

Hudson looks like she is having fun as Goodwin’s imperious bff, but she could have used more direction on when to rein it in and when to let it loose. She spends “Something Borrowed” careening aimlessly between scary-funny and just plain obnoxious, with the obnoxious side triumphing.

There is a good bit with Hudson practicing how she wants to cry on her wedding day, but she loses her grip when she gets the chance for some bona-fide scenery chewing toward the end.

No one to root for? Enter John Krasinski as Ethan, Goodwin’s Jiminy Cricket, who runs away with what is left of this wispy movie. He elevates every scene in which he appears. Someone who knows how to deliver a one-liner and pull off a reaction shot: thank you!

The downsides, though, are that Krasinski is not on screen enough and that he makes the other actors look much worse than they are probably. We twiddle our thumbs waiting for him to reappear and secretly pray that Greenfield will ditch the rom com rules—just this once!—and let Goodwin come to her senses that her beloved is a complete idiot and that the supportive guy on the sidelines is better in every way. He is even cuter.

Krasinski is fortunate to get the funniest lines in the movie, but he even pulls off the film’s sappiest line—“You are home for me”—with some sincerity. More Krasinski please.

So there is one bright spot in this otherwise dreary diversion. But the movie can never transcend the dreariness of the other characters. Who cares whatever happens to these alcoholic, privileged, self-destructive, and self-absorbed Manhattanites? Even if they are pretty nice to look at?

The drinking in this film, by the way, is notably off the Richter scale. These people need rehab and therapy, not romance. And some genuine personality would not hurt anyone.

Cast

Darcy – Kate Hudson

Rachel – Ginnifer Goodwin

Ethan – John Krasinski

Dex – Colin Egglesfield

Marcus – Steve Howey

Credits

An Alcon Entertainment release.

Directed by Luke Greenfield.

Written by Jennie Snyder Urman.

Produced by Hilary Swank, Molly Mickler Smith, Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove, Aaron Lubin, and Pamela Schein Murphy.

Cinematography, Charles Minsky.

Editing, John Axelrad.

Original Music, Alex Wurman.

Running time: 103 minutes.