There’s an old axiom that all storytelling boils down to this basic sentence: “Someone wants something very badly and is having a hard time getting it.” The forces that keep our hero from that goal are usually external, but the otherwise pedestrian romantic comedy Something Borrowed actually tries the more difficult task of keeping the main couple apart because of their own internal issues.
The movie stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel, a 30-year-old lawyer always able to put aside what she wants for the betterment of her BFF since childhood, Darcy (Kate Hudson) -- a sexy extrovert (sextrovert?) who never met a party or a drink she didn’t like. Darcy is marrying Dex (Colin Egglesfield), Rachel’s study partner from law school, and the guy she’s had a massive crush on since they took their first Torts class together. When Dex and Rachel finally hook up just months before the wedding, he realizes he might be marrying the wrong woman, but pressures from his parents corner him into going through with his duties, even if it’s not what his heart wants. Meanwhile, Rachel’s other best friend, Ethan (John Krasinski), does his best to convince her to make a big play for Dex before it’s too late.
At the heart of Something Borrowed is the rather interesting idea that two people who are obviously perfect for each other might never get together because they’re too much alike; neither of them have the guts to go after what they want, so neither will admit the truth to each other. This sort of internalized conflict doesn’t exactly lend itself to comedy, and while Something Borrowed is short on laughs, it does have an exceedingly appealing leading actress.
There might not be a more inherently likable screen presence than Ginnifer Goodwin. Her fresh-scrubbed cuteness and earnest, open face help us root for Rachel, even when the character dithers to the point where you want to scream. She’s well-paired with John Krasinski, who seems like he’s playing the twin brother of Jim, his character on The Office. Hudson, however, does her patented narcissistic, good-time girl routine without any surprises -- she’s like this in seemingly every other rom-com over the last five years.
At first, Egglesfield seems like a bit of a dud. He’s handsome -- and resembles Tom Cruise from the right angle -- yet he seems to lack charisma until you realize the problem isn’t the actor but the role. Turns out that Dex, like Rachel, is an introverted soul, and the performers are unafraid to play the truth in that.
The filmmakers could have used that commitment from their performers to create a quiet little drama that touches us with its tender insight into a couple of scared potential lovers, but instead they clutter things up with misunderstandings worn out by Three’s Company and a choreographed dance routine Rachel and Darcy perform to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” during a sleepover. In the end, there’s nothing surprising about Something Borrowed, other than how much better it might have been.
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