Sunday, May 15, 2011
Something Borrowed: A Review
Ah, to be young, rich, white, and incredibly stupid. I have never read any of Emily Giffin's work, so Something Borrowed would not be on my radar. I figured I was not the target audience of this tale of true love via deception. Therefore, I cannot state how close the film version stayed to the book, but if the novel was like the book, then Giffin has little to no business being paid to put pen to paper.
We have generally sweet and simple (minded) Rachel (Ginnefer Goodson), who is best friends with Darcy (Kate Hudson). While Rachel is suppose to be a lawyer, we don't see how she could ever win a case given what a weak and remarkably dumb woman she is. We never quite figure out what Darcy's profession is or if she has one, at least one that's legal, but we do see her intake copious amounts of alcohol: early in the morning through late-night partying.
Now, here's the gist of Something Borrowed: Rachel met Dex (Colin Egglesfied) in law school, and though both are obviously attracted to each other they never get around to going beyond the 'we're just friends' level. In swoops Darcy, who after telling Dex to ask Rachel out, to which Rachel objects and Dex demurs, Darcy does what any good friend would do: all but order Dex to ask Darcy out. Given that six years have passed by and Dex and Darcy are about to get married, I figure compliant Dex did as he was told.
Now, after Rachel's 30th birthday party, plot contrivances have Dex and Rachel going to bed. What will Dex do: break off his engagement with his hopelessly alcoholic, self-absorbed, publicly embarrassing shrew of a fiancee and be with the woman he's carried a torch for all these years, or deny himself and marry a woman he doesn't share anything with (well, I'll get into that a little later). What will Rachel do: destroy her friendship with her hopelessly alcoholic, self-absorbed, publicly embarrassing shrew of a best friend with whom she has nothing in common with, or for once in her life stand up to her bosom buddy and go after someone Darcy knew Rachel was passionately in love with?
In the mix, we have Ethan (John Krasinski), who has known the BFFs since childhood. We also have Dex's best friend, Marcus (Steve Howey). In all the weekends to the Hamptons this group takes, Darcy continues to drink, Dex & Rachel continue to fight and give in to their attraction, Marcus tries to get into Rachel's pants (actually, into all the women's pants), and Ethan becomes both the voice of reason and attempts to dissuade Claire (Ashley Williams) from trying to sleep with him again by telling her he's gay. Seriously.
From start to finish, you can't believe anything in Something Borrowed. You can't believe the story, and you can't believe the characters are real. If you combined the brains of Ethan, Rachel, Darcy, and Dex, you may come up with half a brain. That is because all their actions, even that of Ethan, who is really the most sensible and realistic of them all, are so patently idiotic one wonders how any of them could function in their world, let alone the real world we the film viewer lives in.
Darcy is really such a repellent character: self-absorbed and inconsiderate, one wonders why Rachel would be her best friend. One doesn't have to have similar interests or tastes to be the bestest of friends, but there has to be some sense of affection between two people. Something Borrowed's main female leads don't have that. What you have is a form of sadomasochistic relationship between Rachel and Darcy, where the former is a doormat to the other.
While we understand that Rachel must have indicated to Darcy that she was attracted to Dex, Darcy doesn't appear troubled by her asking the man her best friend loves out. If, as Rachel tells Ethan, she won't stand up to her because "Darcy always wins", why would this seemingly intelligent woman continue being friends with such a selfish drunk bitch, let alone be Best Friends with her? How dumb or cruel does Darcy have to be to go after the man she knows Rachel is in love with, and how dumb or wimpy does Rachel have to be to let her do so?
Same goes for Dex. While watching Something Borrowed, Dex reminded me of Mrs. Slocombe from Are You Being Served? I thought to myself that Mrs. Slocombe would find him extremely attractive (even letting him play with her pussy, down to letting him work Tiddles' clockwork mouse). However, she would ultimately conclude what I did: that Dex was "Weak as water. WEAK AS WATER!" Dex is just a wimp, and idiot to boot. We never get any idea as to what Dex finds in Darcy that will compel him to date her more than once, let alone want to marry her.
In actually, there is one moment where we can guess as to the glue that holds Dex and Darcy together. It's when both of them, as well as Rachel and Marcus, are in the Hamptons. As Marcus attempts to seduce Rachel, they can hear Darcy emit squeals of erotic delight. It should be noted that we heard only Darcy moan, or at least I don't remember hearing Dex reciprocate. Therefore, I can only imagine that Dex is a remarkably weak and shallow man, willing to give himself over to a woman he probably doesn't love (but whom he's willing to have sex with) for no reason whatsoever.
The closest to a reason to let the marriage go on is when his parents step in, and Daddy all but orders him to marry Darcy. It strikes me odd, if not downright imbecilic, to see a grown man give in to both a pushy father whom we see only once, and a drunk narcissist.
Dex is also pretty repulsive in that he appears to be troubled by going behind Darcy's back, although given Darcy's general behavior in front of him, she is no Grande Dame herself, but isn't man enough to stand up for himself, let alone stand up to Darcy. He also doesn't mind all that much going to bed with his fiancee's best friend, pursuing her with near abandon while at the same time going forward with the wedding plans. What a horrible person Dex is, as is his mistress Rachel.
Finally, the three minor characters (Marcus, Ethan, and Claire) are in their own way repulsive. Marcus is everything his best friend Dex isn't: loud, vulgar, and a shameless womanizer; maybe I can see how they got to be best friends: what is it in Giffin's mind that people who share nothing in common or appear to know each other all that well can be Best Friends? Ethan is the only one in the group to make any sense: he's the only one who uses his brain part of the time, as when he tells Rachel that she has to make up her mind: either break off with Dex or go after him rather than this Hamlet-like vacillation.
While Ethan would have been considered the best of the bunch, it's a curious thing that while he offers sane advise to Rachel, he is incapable of following it himself when it comes to Claire: rather than tell her he's just not that into her, he gives her this idiotic tale of him being gay despite their one night of passion. Claire, who is either obsessed with Ethan or just stupid, appears not to get that he won't be with her, but has become a passionate gay-rights advocate.
Again, I don't know whether Giffin's novel is like Jennie Snyder Urman's script, but if it, the novelist doesn't appear to know much of the complexity of human nature. Are we suppose to hate everyone in Something Borrowed, and think just how shallow and stupid are weak and repulsive they all are? Here you have a complex situation (maid of honor and fiancee in love) but for some reason said maid of honor and fiancee are almost terrified of bride-to-be. Dex and Rachel don't want to tell Darcy the truth, not because it might devastate our drunken whore, but because she might actually get mad and not want to be their friend. Considering that Darcy shamelessly hit on Dex despite knowing her BFF loved him, and that Rachel was too wimpy to stand up for herself, why would we care about what happens to any of them?
Hudson can't make Darcy complex or interesting, but instead she's almost a sad character in how vapid and shallow she is. Goodwin is pleasant but never once can we imagine Rachel is smart enough to be a lawyer given how stupid she is to be Darcy's best doormat, I mean friend. As for Egglesfield, his primary role both on film and in terms of performance is to just smile every time he appears on camera.
How I wish I had $100 for every time Egglesfield smiled. That was his entire performance: basically looking pretty, smiling, and being the object of desire between these two rather dumb women. Krasinski is the only one who does himself any favors because he is the only one here who has any sense to him albeit one that is limited.
Luke Greenfield just doesn't have the material to build Something Borrowed into a plausible romantic comedy, one where we care about the characters because none of them are really worth our time. Even so, there are certain things that I detested in his directing: really, do we have to have so many flashbacks, unusually inspired by someone drinking Heineken, to tell us the story?
The singularly worse moment in Something Borrowed is when Darcy and Rachel are having as close to an intimate moment as they have had on film to suddenly just jump into a dance routine of Push It from Salt-N-Pepa as they did when children. I watched in not so much horror but irritation that we had to go to a musical number to stretch the film.
I can't say that Something Borrowed is good because the plot is dumb, the characters are uninteresting, and the acting is non-existent. I especially did not like a post-credit sequence which suggests that Ethan may be more involved in Darcy's life than has been suggested. Overall, the experience can be enjoyed if you do like all the characters: not use your brain and think the situations are actually either funny or filled with emotion.
In the end, the best way to describe the film is as such: you'll be glad to return Something Borrowed.