In a blanketed statement Luke Greenfield’s Something Borrowed attempts to explore lifelong friendships and the circumstances responsible for their ends. It’s billed as a romantic comedy which would be true if one choreographed dance to Salt N Pepa’s “Push It” and one instance where someone breaks their nose during a game of backgammon were the genre’s qualifiers. But deeper than that lies a message along the lines of “never defer to others ” or even one that’s more like “never give other people the opportunity to take what’s yours because they will.” However those morals get so completely muddled along the way that ultimately the film is downgraded to a chronicle of two best friends in love with the same man.
The film is told from the point of view of Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) who’s described as a successful lawyer at a top law firm (so “top ” in fact it’s never named). She is single mostly keeps to herself and is preoccupied with other people’s happiness but is lucky enough to have a very good friend in Darcy (Kate Hudson) who never misses a chance to talk about herself or steal the attention of an entire party by showing up in a pink boa. We learn Rachel and Darcy's friendship spans decades through a slide show that Darcy puts together for Rachel’s “surprise” 30th birthday party and during Darcy's toast to her best friend she talks about how excited she is to marry Dex (Colin Egglesfield) and how thankful she is to Rachel for introducing the two of them. However the truth is Rachel didn’t introduce them – what really happened was Darcy crashed Rachel and Dex’s date that was in honor of all the hard work they did together to prepare for a law school test. Rachel is saddened by the combination of turning 30 and listening to Darcy's excitement over her upcoming marriage to a man she doesn't deserve and after seeing the birthday girl's pout Dex suggests the fellow lawyers go get another drink together. Rachel casually admits to Dex that she’s had a crush on him since law school (which he claims to have never known) and during a shared cab ride to their separate apartments Dex kisses Rachel because it turns out he has had feelings for her all this time too. Thus begins the affair between Dex and Rachel even though Dex’s wedding to Darcy is only weeks away. Eventually Dex and Rachel both realize they love each other and Dex has to make a decision as to which woman is right for him.
Because the story is told from Rachel The Downtrodden's POV the filmmakers attempted to make Darcy the villain as she’s the opposite of Rachel and is someone who gets everything she wants without having to put forth any effort. In actuality Darcy is pretty easy to despise because she always talks about how she’s good-looking and the only obligations she has are towards partying and making incessant demands to Rachel about her wedding to a man she only halfheartedly loves. I suspect Greenfield decided to highlight the tremendous differences between Darcy and Rachel so as to emphasize the fervor and resilience of their bond (which would in turn make the affair between Rachel and Dex a bigger and more dangerous conflict). But it ends up being a disservice to the overall project because the characters themselves are so fundamentally flawed. The notion that one woman would WILLINGLY endure such bullying from someone who’s supposed to be her best friend is terribly unrealistic and so because the movie virtually revolves around this dysfunctional friendship between these two women means everything is painful to watch. There’s even a point where Rachel’s character becomes as unlikeable as Darcy in the way her utter obedience to Darcy makes her weak-minded a terrible heroine and essentially not worthy of our respect either. And what kind of a romantic comedy has us trying to figure out which woman we hate the most? (Exactly.)
John Krasinski saves the movie from being intolerable. He plays Ethan Rachel’s other best friend and (unlike Darcy) he genuinely cares about Rachel’s well-being. Rachel confides in him and he offers her advice and encouragement and Ethan does not like Darcy at all because he sees the way she treats Rachel and the way Rachel’s life halts every time Darcy has a demand. But his character is way more important than it appears to be because he’s the one who points out that both Rachel AND Darcy are flawed characters and he validates the audience’s disgust with both women. He does this by openly criticizing Darcy’s narcissism (which the audience notices within the first few minutes of the film) and also makes Rachel aware of how pathetic it is that she’s been at Darcy’s beck and call for 30 years. Ethan is arguably the only sane character in this movie and strategically he functions as its voice of reason. Even though Krasinski does not play a main character he’s so responsible for the humor that he is a true delight. Ginnifer Goodwin also does an excellent job playing the character who thinks she’s too ugly to ever get a handsome husband and Kate Hudson also deserves some recognition for embodying someone so self-righteous.
It's hard to criticize producers or a studio about what's wrong with a movie that was originally a book because neither the producers nor the studio are responsible for the story's fundamentals -- the author is. At the same time it’s impossible to hold an author responsible for how well his or her book was adapted into a film. That means both the filmmaker and the author must share credit for Something Borrowed but I have a feeling that in a few years neither party will want any.
Myers’ Guru Pitka could have used a little more back story and a little less shtick. The thin plot has Pitka uttering philosophical piddle like “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind ” and repeating his mantra “Mariska Hargitay” over and over. But Pitka is not happy with his standing in the spiritual community--especially with the success story of his childhood friend and colleague Deepak Chopra (who cameos in the film). Chopra has been on Oprah for god’s sake! Suddenly Pitka sees the possibility of the fame when Jane (Jessica Alba) the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team summons him to help get back her star player Darren’s (Romany Malco) mojo back after his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) leaves him for the legendarily well-endowed L.A. Kings star Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). Pitka’s spiritual mission? Get Darren and Prudence back together in time for the Leafs to win the all-important Stanley Cup. If you’re looking for one-man shows Mike Myers is your man. Clearly the actor is this generation’s Peter Sellers choosing to play characters far from his own persona such as spy Austin Powers or Wayne Campbell. Guru Pitka fits right in. In Love Guru Pitka throws all sorts of self-help mumbo jumbo around hoping some of it sticks. He is like a distant cousin to other Sellers incarnations in films such as The Magic Christian I Love You Alice B. Toklas and particularly his Indian actor Hrundi V. Bakshi in The Party. But Love Guru doesn’t match those films or even any part of the Austin Powers trilogy largely because the gags take precedence over any true character development. For every Bollywood musical takeoff that works there’s a couple of bits that fall flat. It’s hit and miss despite Myers best efforts to sell this show as something more than an SNL sketch. Surrounding the star is the spectacularly unfunny but still beautiful Alba and the surprisingly funny AND beautiful Justin Timberlake who holds his own in the comedy department especially with his broken Canadian accent. Austin Powers sidekick Verne Troyer is back as the not-so-swell coach of the Leafs and he makes a good hockey puck while Ben Kingsley does his thing as the master Guru Tugginmypudha. First-timer Marco Schnabel is credited as director but it’s a good bet star/co-writer (with Graham Gordy) Mike Myers was calling most of the shots; it appears Myers did not have someone behind the camera reigning him in. Too bad. A sharp comedy director could have shaped the film into more than just a series of sight and sound gags designed for quick laughs at the expense of a coherent story. For his first live action film in five years (he does the animated Shrek films in between) it’s a little disappointing The Love Guru isn’t better than it is particularly from the creative mind behind the Austin Powers trilogy. Myers says he came up with this idea while seeking spiritual guidance from Deepak Chopra after his father died. The opportunity for some sharper satire and a stronger storyline is traded for a hit or miss 88 minute skit that has its moments but never finds it’s true Karma.
Top Story: Jewish Leader Wants Vatican Response on Gibson Film
A prominent Jewish leader has asked that the Vatican respond to Mel Gibson's controversial The Passion of the Christ, Reuters reports. Abraham Foxman, the U.S. director of independent Jewish pressure group the Anti-Defamation League, met with several Vatican officials and urged them to instruct Catholic bishops around the world to issue statements locally telling their congregations that the film, which depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life and has been deemed anti-Semitic, is an artistic work and not a pure portrayal of gospel accounts. "It's Mel Gibson's version of the gospel, it's Mel's gospel. He's entitled but he's promoting it as the gospel truth," Foxman told Reuters. "He's promoting it as biblical, historical truth and I believe the Church has a responsibility to its teachings, its interpretation, and this is at variance with what the Church is all about." Foxman added, "I would hope that the Vatican and the Catholic Church would stand up to defend its teachings because in fact what the film is an interpretation that challenges what the Church has been teaching for the past 40 years." Foxman also challenged Gibson to appear in an on-screen postscript to tell viewers not to blame Jews for the death of Jesus Christ or else his "passion of love would turn into a passion of hate."
Jackson Honored for Charity Work
Making her first public appearance since Nipplegate, Janet Jackson received an award Friday for her humanitarian and charitable contributions from Behind the Bench, an association of NBA players's wives that has raised nearly $1 million for charities in Los Angeles. "She has done a wonderful job giving back to communities across America. That fact has not changed," Behind the Bench spokesman Vince McCaskill told The Associated Press. "She was on board with this seven months ago. We never even considered her not being here."
Canadians Decry Conan
Canadian politicians are up in arms over comments made about French Canadians on The Late Show with Conan O'Brien, AP reports. The NBC show, paid for partially by the Canadian government, was taped in Toronto last week in an effort to boost the city's tourist industry, still reverberating from the SARS outbreak last year. During a pre-taped skit, sock puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog hurled his usual repertoire of insults at visitors attending Quebec City's Winter Carnival, particularly at French Canadian separatists. Alexa McDonough, a member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party, said the sketch was "vile and vicious" and amounted to hate-mongering, AP reports. NBC has declined comment, and O'Brien mentioned the topic only in passing in his monologue during the taping of the final Toronto show on Friday afternoon.
Rings Picks Up Another Award
Along with winning the top prize at the BAFTA Awards over the weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was also named the best period or fantasy film at the 8th annual Art Directors Guild Awards Saturday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Mystic River was awarded best art direction in a contemporary film.
Angel Gets the Axe
The WB has canceled the supernatural drama Angel, a spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AP reports. "We did not want to contemplate this being the last year of Angel without giving the show the option of crafting their own destiny for this character and for this series," WB co-chairman Jordan Levin told AP. Angel has struggled in the ratings, but maintains a loyal cult-fan base and has had strong reissue sales on DVD.
View's Jones To Wed
TV correspondent Star Jones, co-host of ABC's daytime talk show The View, was surprised Sunday at the NBA's All-Star game when boyfriend Al Reynolds presented her with a ring and asked her to marry him, AP reports. Audience member Denzel Washington led the cheers as Jones covered her face in amazement.
LeBlanc, Wife Welcome First Child
Matt LeBlanc and his wife, Melissa, had their first child, a girl, Feb. 8, according to People.com. The couple married in May. Melissa has two children from a previous marriage.
Grunge Rocker Turned Politician?
Not quite. Former Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic will not be running for lieutenant governor in his home state of Washington as previously planned, but he does plan to remain active in politics, AP reports. Novoselic, who contemplated running for office in November, said he would keep working with Music for America to boost voter participation among young people and continue his efforts for election reform but concluded, "the whole thing about running a campaign and being a public servant isn't the way to do it."
Role Call: Tina Turner Goes Indian, Madonna Goes To Jail
Pop singer Tina Turner has signed on to play an Indian goddess in the new Ismail Merchant/James Ivory film The Goddess, AP reports. Details about the film are sketchy, other than that it will include classic Indian songs. "I think Ismail (Merchant) chose me because of my shakti (strength) within," said Turner, who is a Buddhist. "I'm special in that I've had a long run and I'm still here."…Meanwhile, Madonna and her production company, Maverick Films, are developing a movie based on the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the project follows the infamous experiment conducted by professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University to explore the psychology of evil by recruiting 12 college students to role-play prison guards and inmates. Zimbardo's experiment was discontinued when the participants began taking on their roles with harrowing results. No director or stars are attached as yet.