From its empty soul to its poorly framed shots ready for pan-and-scan conversion, “Something Borrowed” seems primed to play on Saturday afternoons on E!, sandwiched between reruns of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Bridalplasty.” Based on the chick-lit hit of the same name by Emily Giffin, this story is a hollow one, filled with unlikable characters and dialogue from someone who likely quotes wisdom from Cosmo. If you thought that “Sex and the City 2” had too much substance, this is the movie for you.
Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson star as best friends Rachel and Darcy. Since childhood, Rachel and Darcy’s friendship has been based on supposedly mousy Rachel allowing selfish beauty Darcy to have the spotlight--and everything else, including her law school crush Dex (Colin Egglesfield) who is now engaged to the Chanel-toting blonde. But after Rachel’s surprise 30th birthday party (where Darcy steals the show), Rachel ends up in bed with her best friend’s fiance. They guiltily conduct an affair, with Rachel’s sarcastic other best friend Ethan (John Krasinski) giving her advice on what to do. She's forced to choose between love and friendship, but when the decision is between a selfish scene-stealer and a boring, indecisive man, is there really a good choice?
The three marquee toppers--Goodwin, Hudson and Krasinski--are what elevates “Something Borrowed” from an all-out disaster to an experience that’s only a truly unpleasant two hours. Goodwin is reliably adorable, even as she’s making awful decisions. She’s cast as the girl next door, the character whom audiences are meant to identify with. Meanwhile, Hudson’s Darcy gets our sympathy for only a minute, but she still remains believably bitchy throughout the film, keeping the character realistic where others might have gone over the top. If you’re unlucky, you likely know someone like Darcy, but hopefully you’re smart enough to stay far away. Krasinski gives up the goofy mugging he’s famous for on “The Office” to play Ethan and trades it in for something meaner. This is the first role where he’s really moved beyond the Jim Halpert persona, and it’s a good sign for his post-show career.
Egglesfield, who presumably “perfected” his craft with stints on “All My Children” and “90210,” has all the charm of “The Bachelor”--and equal ability to deliver a line. He’s pretty in a way that implies shared genes with Tom Cruise (and the film's dialogue never stops telling you how handsome he is in case you haven’t noticed) but so bland that you almost pity him...if you could summon the energy to care. The script tries to imbue him with something of a personality by casting him as the would-be teacher who is stuck being a lawyer so he can meet his upper-class family’s expectations, but it’s never enough to make him believable as the object of two women’s affections.
Problems from poor casting to equally poor shots and directing plague the film, but it’s the script that makes “Something Borrowed” truly awful. The dialogue is the type of eye-roll-inducing chatter that would make you lament the fate of the human race if you overheard it from the next table at brunch, but the fact that people were paid both to write and speak the lines--which alternate between rom-com cliche and mind-numbing idiocy--is especially painful. “I’m not a word person,” declares the blissfully dumb Darcy, and apparently neither is the writer behind that line. It’s unclear whether the fault lies in Giffin’s source material or in the script from Jennie Snyder (a TV veteran of “Lipstick Jungle,” “90210” and the awful, Amy Sherman-Palladino-free final season of “Gilmore Girls”), but it is certain how bad both the dialogue and the silly plot are.
Romantic comedies stress the difficulty of finding that perfect person, but finding your soul mate seems to be far easier than finding a good romantic comedy. The last few years have produced “Definitely, Maybe,” “Going the Distance” and presumably a few other solid entries in the genre (can you name another?), but for each of those gems, there’s “He’s Just Not That Into You,” “Leap Year,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” and a dozen more, including “Something Borrowed.” Like the worst of its genre, it’s a film made for women that doesn’t seem to actually think much of its core audience. “Something Borrowed” tells us that we’re apparently selfish, shallow and competitive creatures willing to risk what we truly (questionably) value, all for a pretty face. Plus, when we have what may be the worst day of our lives, all is made better by an impromptu performance of Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It.” That sounds exactly like all the women you know, right?
It’s unclear--and unlikely--how all the melodrama of “Something Borrowed” will reach its inevitably happy ending. There’s a late-in-the-game confession of love, a climactic game of badminton on a South Hampton beach, and you wonder--for a moment--how things will turn out for the girl next door turned other woman. You don’t know how it’s going to work out, but honestly, you don’t really care either. [D-]