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Borrowed ideas recycle genre through lens of tedium

By Dure-Ajam Ahmad
posted May 26, 2011

Romantic-comedy films are infamous for poor attempts at humor, a predictably cheesy storyline, and a typical romance between two conflicting personalities. Though director Luke Greenfield’s (The Girl Next Door) attempt in the genre, Something Borrowed, does not fall into these traps per se. The attempted twist on the typical romantic storyline is unrealistic and morally unjust. Based on the novel of the same name by Emily Giffin, the movie centers around a thirty-year-old single woman who begins a relationship with her college crush, who happens to be engaged to her best friend.

The film opens with Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin, Ramona and Beezus) at her surprise birthday party, thrown by her best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson, Bride Wars). It is instantly insinuated that Darcy enjoys being the center of attention. Quite the opposite, the mousy Rachel lives in the shadow of Darcy. The introduction of Darcy’s fiancé, Dex (Colin Egglesfield, Beautiful Dreamer) triggers Rachel’s days at NYU with him. Incidentally, it was through her that Darcy met Dex. After the party, Rachel is about to leave when Dex shows up to retrieve Darcy’s purse. The two friends decide to grab some drinks for old times’ sake. During their conversation, Rachel jokingly reveals the fact that she had a crush on him during law school, thinking he knew. Unfortunately he did not, which puts an awkward end to their reminiscing.

On the way home, Rachel begins to awkwardly apologize when Dex kisses her. The seemingly harmless kiss results in the two staying the night together. The next morning they begin to worry about what they did and the effects it will have on their relationships with Darcy. They immediately promise to forget the night had ever happened, but that rarely ever works out in films. After Dex reveals that he actually liked Rachel in law school as well, the two realize they cannot forget. They begin an affair behind Darcy’s back, creating quite the conflict within Rachel, who hates to see Dex with Darcy, but also hates hurting her friend. Eventually, Rachel’s childhood friend, Ethan (John Krasinski, The Office), finds out about their affair and urges Rachel to take some action and force Dex to decide who to be with as his wedding with Darcy draws closer.

There is no doubt that Goodwin is a competent actress, but that is all she is able to establish in Something Borrowed, due largely to the boring and generic character she plays. A similar stance can be taken to newcomer Egglesfield, although his performance should ensure similar films in the future. Hudson, meanwhile, can cross off “act in a bad rom-com” from her bucket list – again. Her bad choice in movies has not, however, inhibited her acting. Hudson performs well as the narcissistic and seemingly-void-of-the-capacity-for-empathy Darcy, and definitely causes a few laughs. Krasinski, however, steals the show. Although Ethan is largely a flat character and does not have a well-developed back story, Krasinski’s witty humor makes the film much more enjoyable.

Taking into consideration that Greenfield’s resumé consists of relative duds like The Girl Next Door and The Animal, Something Borrowed is a step up from previous attempts. It is entertaining up until the ending and has misguided emotional appeal threaded through.

Although Krasinski and Hudson generate enough humor throughout the film to fulfill the comedy aspect, the humor appears to be a cover-up for the lack of a realistic story, that ends with a disappointingly lackluster fizzle. The lovable couple throughout the film is supposed to be Dex and Rachel, suggesting that there is no problem with their misdeeds, which only adds to the horrendous soap opera-esque plot. The only way to enjoy Something Borrowed is to not think about it too much, end it 15 minutes early and let the viewers create a new ending for themselves.


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