Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something Borrowed

At first, “Something Borrowed”, based on the novel by Emily Giffin, seems like it is just going to be another run of the mill romantic comedy. Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin: “Big Love”) has a crush on Dex (Colin Egglesfield: “All My Children”), a guy she went to law school with, but she has never told him how she feels because she doesn't believe that he could ever feel that way about somone quiet and mousey like her, but that's not the problem. You see, Dex is engaged to Rachel's lifelong best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson: “Bride Wars”), whom she introduced him to in the first place, but that's not the real problem either.

The problem is, that on the night of her thirtieth birthday, Rachel confesses her feelings to Dex, expecting him to just laugh it off, but he doesn't. In fact, he admits that he had the same feelings about her, but thought that it was she who was not interested. So now, with only months until Darcy and Dex are due to get married, he and Rachel must figure out what exists between them while keeping the whole thing a secret from Darcy.

To further complicate things, Darcy keeps trying to pair Rachel up with Dex's neanderthal, manchild of a friend, Marcus (Steve Howey: “Stan Helsing”), who seems to be willing to sleep with anything with a pair of breasts. Then there's Ethan (John Krasinski: “The Office”), who is a mutual friend of Darcy and Rachel, and seems to be almost the personification of Rachel's conscience when he's not busy trying to hide from Claire (Ashley Williams: “Good Morning, Miami”), a woman obsessed with him after a poorly thought out one night stand.

Now what makes this a unique RomCom to me is that fact that the audience is expected to root for a protagonist who is attempting to steal her best friend's fiance. It's not just Rachel who is a bad person though, it's everyone. Darcy is an alcoholic attention-whore, Dex is seriously considering dumping his fiance for Rachel, Marcus is just a sleazeball, and Ethan won't be honest with Claire about his lack of interest in her. If anything, the only character who's not scummy in this film is Claire, who may be a bit of an overbearing nutter, but at least she's honest in her dealings with the other characters.

It's not just the scumminess of the characters that set this film apart from other films in the genre though, it's the attention given to minor characters. Marcus and Ethan, both of whom seem like they should just be minor characters are actually very well fleshed out. I was especially susprised to see Marcus get a couple of scenes where he is allowed to be a little bit more than just a horndog; it's nice to see a character that could easily have been two-dimensional get to be a little genuine, even if it is in a slimey sort of way.

The person who steals a lot of scenes though is Ethan. When he's not busy trying to hide from Claire, or be Jiminy Cricket to Rachel's Pinnochio, he gets to be Captain Snarker. A lot of the movie's funniest lines are delivered by him, as he seems to almost act as a vocalization for whatever is going on in Rachel's mind. Basically amp up Krasinski's character on “The Office” a couple of notches, and you will have a fairly good idea of who Ethan is.

Of course all this time spent on minor characters pads the movie out a bit, and by a bit I mean a lot. The film is almost two hours long, which is a bit much for a pretty light chick flick like this. Usually when a movie is this long, I can think of scenes I would cut out, but that's not the case this time; everything is either too funny to cut, or it's actually important to the plot. In the interest of full disclosure, the screening I attended was not air conditioned, and by the film's end it had to be around ninety degrees in there, so that may have influenced my issues with the length a little.

All in all, this is a fun film, and it stays surprisingly light despite its subject matter, but I could not help but feel a little oogy cheering on a homewrecker. Yes, the film goes out of its way to make Darcy as unlikable as possible without actually making her hateful, but what Rachel and Dex are doing cannot help but feel immoral to me. I still liked their characters, but this is definitely a film where there are no black hats or white hats, just lots and lots of gray hats.

Even though “Something Borrowed” is almost certainly going to get crushed under the heel of “Thor” at the box office, it is a nice alternative for people not into the mullet-wearing hammer-wielder, and you could certainly find a worse alternative out there. If you like your girly RomCom characters to have the morality of the guys from “The Hangover”, and you want a movie that has a number of genuinely funny moments then I would definitely recommend that you check out “Something Borrowed”, just maybe don't take your best friend with you.

“Something Borrowed” will steal your boyfriend in theaters Friday, May 6th.

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