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.
October 28, 2002 7:55am EST
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to hurl yourself into a spinning ceiling fan or snort a line of wasabi then Jackass: The Movie is right up your alley. Paramount Pictures and MTV Films have released the big screen adaptation of the series featuring a bunch of guys doing really gross and often dangerous stunts--all for your viewing pleasure. Here series regulars including Johnny Knoxville Bam Margera Chris Pontius Steve-O Dave England Ryan Dunn and Jason 'Wee Man' Acuna perform stunts they say couldn't be done on network television. In one gag for example Dunn inserts a toy car up his butt then visits an x-ray specialist to complain about some mysterious pain. When the doc shows him the x-ray with the silhouette of the car clearly visible Dunn asks him how it could have gotten there to which the doc replies in all seriousness "Maybe you stuck it up your ass." The lowbrow pranks however are nothing compared to having to watch the Jackass crew's pasty white butt cheeks as they prance around in thongs throughout the majority of the film. If you can stomach that then you're ready for anything.
When Knoxville wanted to turn his practical jokes into a career he approached Big Brother magazine editor Jeff Tremaine about turning his antics into a column. Tremaine instead suggested he videotape his stunts and the two released the Big Brother Video Trilogy which quickly became an underground hit. It's nice to see that despite his cult status and MTV fame Knoxville (whose real name is Philip John Clapp) is not above performing some of the movie's worst stunts including getting a beating from heavyweight boxer Eric "Butterbean" Esch which sends him to the emergency room. It is interesting to see the personalities of the some of the Jackass crew emerge like Steve-O's. Initially he was supposed to be the one pulling off the toy car prank but he backs out on camera citing health concerns. But later on we find out Steve-O simply didn't want to disappoint his father and drew the line at that stunt. Look out for some great cameos including BMX pro Matt Hoffman skateboarder Tony Hawk and former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins.
Tremaine who directed the film stays true to the series and delivers a movie that pretty much resembles an extended episode with wackier stunts. The footage is shot in the same fashion with hand-held cameras and spy cams hidden in oversized hats. Although the first few gags are not the best (neither are the ones involving animals which are sad rather than outrageous) the film eventually unleashes its goodies saving the best for last. By the warning that flashes on the screen at the beginning of the film it's clear that everyone involved has a sense of humor about it. It reads: "The following stunts were performed by professionals so for your safety and the protection of those around you Paramount Pictures and MTV Films insist that neither you or your dumb little buddies attempt any of what you're about to see."