By Steve Persall
Times Film Critic
Something Borrowed is a romantic comedy in which absolutely no one deserves to end up happy.
Sure, two of the film's emotional masochists wind up hand-in-hand at the fade-out, after a series of deceptions and betrayals that would leave anyone in real life moping alone. Yet the urge is to say goodbye and good riddance, rather than wishing the happy couple well.
What we have here isn't a failure to communicate but dogged refusal to do so, since Something Borrowed would otherwise end in 20 minutes. The woman with the most to reveal has the best reason for doing that, being honest with her lifelong best friend. Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) is sleeping with the fiance of her lifelong best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson), who's so self-possessed that you wonder what Dex (Colin Egglesfield) saw in her in the first place.
Dex is even more of a doormat than Rachel, kowtowing to the wishes of his wealthy parents and allowing Darcy to call every shot in their relationship. He knows what his heart wants but his mouth won't form the right words. Dex is a coward, stringing along two women. Even Egglesfield's eerie resemblance to Tom Cruise — he hails cabs with his best side — doesn't make Dex anything more than a lying, cheating weakling.
Their wacky sidekicks — something else borrowed from the rom-com rule book — don't fare much better. One is a horndog (Steve Howey), while another is a mentally unstable love stalker (Ashley Williams). Rather than a gay confidant, Rachel has a buddy (John Krasinski) pretending to be gay to get the stalker off his back.
Director Luke Greenfield, whose previous feature missteps The Girl Next Door and The Animal should be enough warning, has no fizz in his game with such a pathetic group of characters. Something Borrowed bounces from Big Apple nightclubs to Hamptons beach homes in a quest for sophistication for a scenario that at its core is a Jerry Springer Show episode.
Hudson does a fine job of making Darcy unappealing, a compulsively egocentric party girl turning Rachel's birthday party into a self-tribute. Something Borrowed poses the question: Does it count as betrayal if the person being cheated upon is a jerk? In fact it does count but that doesn't stop Greenfield from trying to convince us otherwise.
Another question arises in the script, when Rachel deflects a crude come-on from the horndog: "How do you make such hideous things sound so charming?" It's meant as a backhanded compliment but the same query could be asked in a different tone of Something Borrowed. The answer is: You can't.
Steve Persall can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8365.