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I'll give this much to Something Borrowed: instead of adopting standard rom-com protocol of surrounding a lead female with gaggle of bland well-meaning friends, it dares to probe a bit into the destructive and complicated nature of actual female friendship. And instead of creating a bunch of flimsy obstacles keeping apart our two flawed but perfect-for-each other leads, it allows its idiotic and manipulative characters to trip constantly over disasters of their own making. But simply being different doesn't make it any good, and Something Borrowed suffers from the same floppy direction and glassy-eyed performances that plague most other efforts in the genre; yes, Kate Hudson has punished us yet again.
Though, to be fair to Hudson, she's actually one of the better things in the movie, playing the vivacious and more than a little obnoxious Darcy, the kind of up-for-anything dynamo who everyone ought to have in their circle of friends. Unfortunately for meek little lawyer Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) Darcy is the center of that circle, dominating Rachel's life since childhood and now laying out the final unintentional insult by marrying Dex (Colin Egglesfield), the guy Rachel's had a crush on since law school. Flush with wine and self-pity on her 30th birthday Rachel surprises herself by sleeping with Dex, an obvious mistake that blossoms into a full-fledged affair over the course of one of those movie Manhattan summers, all Hamptons cottages and sparkly rooftops.
The complications of this affair have the potential to spin Something Borrowed in all kinds of comedic directions-- maybe a slamming-door farce in the Hamptons house, as Rachel and Dex try to flirt under-the-radar, or even a series of wry conversations about complicated feelings in the style of early Woody Allen. Instead Something Borrowed plods through every turn in Jennie Snyder Urman's awkwardly adapted script, never bothering to escalate the stakes beyond the wedding date drawing inexorably nearer (the calendar does tend to have that effect) and Rachel's confidant Ethan (John Krasinski) pointing out to her, with increasing exasperation, how dumb she's being. Krasinski's role as the audience surrogate is almost ludicrous, as he says out loud all the story's logic gaps in the script's lame attempt to make up for them, but his effortless appeal makes him a bright spot in the film, especially compared to the blander-than-bland Egglesfield.
Rachel is intended to be our sympathetic heroine digging her own grave of mistakes, but though Goodwin is charming and pretty enough, the character is such a wet blanket and a pushover that you can't blame Dex for ignoring her all these years. And though Hudson nails the self-indulgent and occasionally hilarious Darcy, the character is written as such a monster that there's no rooting for her, even in the moments where we're supposed to "get" her lifelong friendship with Rachel. You get the sense that in Emily Giffin's novel we understood this better-- who hasn't had a friend who drove them crazy more often than not?-- but director Luke Greenfield draws everything in Something Borrowed with such broad strokes that whenever any subtlety shines though-- as in the oddly affecting final scene-- it feels entirely accidental.
By the end of the film all of the characters have acted so stupidly or selfishly-- even Krasinski's character gets dragged down late in the film-- you want Something Borrowed to take one of those unexpected directions and let all the characters end up apart. You know from the poster, the trailer, the cast and the dreadful rom-com-industrial complex we're part of, though, that it won't turn out that way, and it's just one more part of the slow, slow death of what was once a great American movie genre.