The romantic comedy genre remains one of the most maligned in cinema, with the chick flick nickname signifying the lack of respect afforded the category by the industry and the audience. However, given the continued popularity of the rom-com format with the target demographic regardless of the quality or lack thereof of the films made in the mould, there is obviously a reason that the genre has endured. Like many other styles of content, much of the appeal stems from the escapist nature of the narrative, with quintessential examples preferring the fantasy or fairy-tale premise. Offering viewers a pleasant, and at times comedic, cinematic intermission filled with the stories that potentially populate their hopes, dreams and desires, the romantic comedy is designed to entertain as it posits a world in which love can overcome the most insurmountable of boundaries. Bringing Emily Giffin’s novel to the screen, Luke Greenfield’s Something Borrowed is the latest movie to attempt to convey the quest for romance in such a fashion, with the age-old love triangle the cornerstone of the feature.
Shy lawyer Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin, A Single Man) and outgoing party girl Darcy (Kate Hudson, The Killer Inside Me) have been best friends since childhood, sharing every experience from primary school to college through thick and thin. However, when Rachel’s surprise 30th birthday bash turns into a celebration of Darcy’s impending nuptials, Rachel can’t help realising the unequal balance of power that permeates the friendship. Her latent feelings for Darcy’s fiancé Dex (Colin Egglesfield, The Good Guy), an acquaintance from her law school days, only serve to complicate matters further, with Rachel accustomed to letting her pal overwhelm her life to her own detriment. After a drunken altercation cements the burgeoning bond with her best friend’s future husband, Rachel’s relationship with Darcy is tested, with her long-suffering confidant Ethan (John Krasinski, Away We Go) the sole voice of reason.
Is romance dead? Has it been replaced with a conglomerate’s concept of coy encounters and tamer-than-it-thinks innuendo? Something Borrowed‘s filmmakers add insult to injury by suggesting that it is Rachel who needs a man to make her life complete, requiring her to convert her self-assertion into a desperate plea for love. Much of the caper-driven plot could be forgiven as the typical conceit of a rom-com, the kind that seems to be required by a law we are yet to be told about. The ‘clever’ twist on this version is that our newest favourite couple get together at the start of the film, but whether they can stay together is the propellant for this pedestrian piece of fluff. Yet every other aspect of this oestrogen guided missile can be predicated with a simple Venn diagram and an Etch-a-Sketch. New York is once again the playground of hip, young city-slickers, who have a convenient holiday getaway that is easily accessible, it may as well be an episode of Friends. The days of genre-bending romances – including action-adventures (Romancing the Stone), period pieces (Shakespeare in Love) or slick crime capers (Out of Sight) – have given way to cookie-cutter scenarios and characters. Even actors Goodwin, Krasinski and especially genre veteran Hudson are recycled. Has anybody thought of pairing up Samuel L. Jackson and Betty White in space?
Ginnifer Goodwin: we think you may need to have a good long talk with your agent. Despite carving out a solid role in the superior TV drama Big Love over the course of the last few years, her big screen outings of Ramona and Beezus and He’s Just Not That Into You have largely been characterised as mediocre at best. So the bubbly persona once again rears her pretty head as the kind of girl every man would love to marry if they weren’t so darn distracted by those skanks snagging the “good ones”. Indeed, absolutely everybody surrounding Goodwin’s Rachel are pitiful excuses for human beings. It baffles the mind as to why the purportedly smart law graduate still hangs around with the loudmouthed Goldie Hawn/Kate Hudson (whatever), or what it is her similarly ‘respectable’ study buddy sees in the self-involved blonde. Rachel’s best friend only seems to be capable of one-liners, and her one true love proves to be a bit of a wishy-washy cad several times over. Any successes that Rachel may have achieved as a career lawyer are barely acknowledged, with the suggestion being that the ‘smart girl’ will not be accepted by Dex’s “old money” family. Then again, according to the flashbacks the only law subject they ever seemed to study was torts, so perhaps, like the audiences who continue to flock to these films, they are simply in denial.
The Reel Bits: A predictable story from an ultimately weak and unlikeable group of characters demonstrates the worn-out rubber band syndrome of a genre overused in the last decade or so. The only thing that rings true about Something Borrowed is the title, indicative of the derivative nature of this forgettable tale.
Something Borrowed was released on May 5, 2011 in Australia by Hoyts Distribution.