On the one hand it’s a comedy. We meet Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston) a thirtysomething knee deep in a pre-midlife crisis with a way too patient fiancé (Mark Ruffalo) and a nowhere job. Her anxiety is only exacerbated when she visits her picture perfect family in Pasadena CA a place she’s never felt like she belonged especially after her mother died. But then it gets weirder when Sarah finds out her family was the inspiration for The Graduate. It seems Sarah’s grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) was the Mrs. Robinson and that her mother ran off with the same guy briefly right before she got married to Sarah’s dad. Sarah becomes obsessed with finding this “other” guy Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) believing he might be the key. He’s a key all right--to a night of drunken lust. But none of this is going to solve Sarah’s problems now is it? She’s got to find her own answers in her heart. Excuse me while I go throw up. Maybe Jennifer Aniston should just write this year off. Not only did she lose a husband to another woman she also hasn’t made very smart choices in her career. Derailed completely missed the track and now this comedy is no better suited to her talents. Aniston is much better playing sweet and quirky rather than messy and neurotic and honestly shines brighter when co-starring with strong comedic talents such as Ben Stiller (Along Came Polly) or Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty). (That’s why we’re holding our breath for her next film The Break Up with [real-life boyfriend?] Vince Vaughn.) Shirley MacLaine making a habit out of being the best thing in an otherwise dull movie (In Her Shoes anyone?) is a hoot as grandma. Costner doesn’t look anything like Dustin Hoffman thank goodness but has zero chemistry with Aniston. And who knows what the hell Ruffalo is doing wasting his talents doing this romantic comedy crap. Just say no Mark. As a director Rob Reiner hasn’t had much luck lately either. This is the first movie he’s directed since 2003’s Alex & Emma--and we all remember what a success that was. To be fair Reiner apparently took over the reins from screenwriter Ted Griffin (Matchstick Men) who was making his feature film debut ten days into production and changed things quite a bit. That’s not surprising because Rumor quite simply lacks direction. It wants desperately to be a comedy with a hint of relationship drama but somehow misses the mark on both. Now the idea of a Graduate update is somewhat intriguing. Reminds me of Robert Altman’s The Player in which The Graduate’s original screenwriter Buck Henry pitches a sequel of sorts to a studio development exec. It’s meant to be a joke of course but somewhere in the spoof there might’ve been a sliver of mad brilliance. Too bad Rumor ruins it.
September 16, 2005 5:05am EST
The socially inept Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) is a workaholic doctor who never leaves the hospital. Her married sister Abby (Dina Waters) tries in vain to set up with a good man to no avail. But fate is about to intervene. On her way home from a long shift Elizabeth gets into a head-on collision with a semi-truck and suddenly the lines between life and death are blurred. Jumping forward we meet David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) a guy wallowing in self-pity from the death of his wife two years earlier who to find some solitude moves into a fabulous furnished apartment. What he doesn't know is the previous tenant hasn't left not really. That's right it was Elizabeth's apartment and for whatever reason (seriously they don't entirely explain it) Elizabeth--or her spirit I guess--hasn't grasped the idea that she is in well limbo. Only David can see her of course as she yells at him for leaving sweat rings on the coffee table but Elizabeth eventually grows on him. She elicits his help in finding out what happened to her and with a little help from the eccentric Darryl (Jon Heder) a bookstore employee who has the gift for sensing spirits David and Elizabeth find that heaven and earth are not really that far apart.
As our romantic pair Witherspoon and Ruffalo do an adequate job adhering to the staid romantic comedy formula. Witherspoon is one of the more consistent comedic actresses these days and has the sweet but controlling ingénue routine down to a science. But it may be time for her to take a break from the standard fare and head back to the indies getting down and dirty like she did in Election. Ruffalo does a pretty impressive job for his second time as the romantic lead. As he did with 13 Going on 30 Ruffalo at least tries to add some quirky twists to a boring character. Still he should also probably stick to showcasing his dramatic acting talent in cool indies much like he did in You Can Count on Me. It's Heaven's side characters who have all the fun. Waters (The Haunted Mansion) does a nice turn as the caring sister who's own hectic life as a mother of two rambunctious kids always seems to interfere with what she's doing. Donal Logue (TV's Grounded For Life) as David's therapist best friend too has a fun time yuking it up. But the real standout in an otherwise dull universe is Napoleon Dynamite himself Jon Heder in his second feature film. He's still a geek but at least this time he's a mystical one who knows a thing or two about wandering spirits. Of course he also gets the best lines: "I'm 99.9 percent parched here. I need a cola." I'm going to use that one from now on.
As the director of the satirical Mean Girls and the cutesy Freaky Friday Mark Waters may be out of his element with an out and out romantic comedy. The initial idea about a women whose stuck in the spirit world until she finds the true love she never sought after in life is somewhat intriguing. But rather than play with that the film just ends up your standard romantic comedy while also stealing from other films such as Ghost and The Sixth Sense. Just Like Heaven also has some serious logistical flaws. For example seeing how Elizabeth is supposed to be a ghost--that she can't touch anything tangible and can walk through walls tables and just about anything else--she is later seen laying on top of a table. It doesn't make sense as to how she can walk through it at one moment and be on it the next. And the fact you are paying attention to these inconsistencies means you just aren't caring that much about the rest of the film.
Top Story: Prince William and Ashton Kutcher Vie for Bachelor Crown
People magazine released its list of the 25 hottest bachelors Wednesday--but readers get to decide whether Prince William or Ashton Kutcher will be crowned No. 1. The magazine's June 30 issue offers readers a side-by-side comparison of the two, but the similarities seem to end at their height (both men are 6-foot-3). The 20-year-old Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne, dates "blue-blooded babes." Kutcher, who stars in Fox's That '70s Show and the MTV series Punk'd, prefers the company of "Hollywood hotties." He was previously involved with his Just Married co-star Brittany Murphy and is now reportedly dating 40-year-old actress Demi Moore--15 years his senior. Other hot bachelors on the list include choreographer Cris Judd, Jennifer Lopez 's ex-husband; American Idol judge Simon Cowell; actor Colin Hanks, Tom Hanks' son; and North Carolina police officer Jeffrey Postell, who arrested fugitive Eric Rudolph, The Associated Press reports. Readers can post their vote online at People's Web site.
Anderson and Rock on the Rocks?
There is trouble in paradise for V.I.P. star Pamela Anderson and rocker Kid Rock. The couple has been engaged since April 2002, but during a promotional appearance for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Florida last week, Anderson wasn't wearing her engagement ring. She also showed up at party at the Playboy mansion last Tuesday without Rock, whose real name is Bob Ritchie. "Assume what you want about a wedding," Anderson told US Weekly magazine when asked about future wedding plans. "I'm here with family and friends. That might be a hint."
Rachel Hunter Files for Divorce From Rod Stewart
Model Rachel Hunter has filed for divorce from British rock star Rod Stewart, seeking the formal end of their marriage, Reuters reports. The couple married 13 years ago but have been separated for four years. They have two young children together. Hunter, 33, filed papers in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday, citing irreconcilable differences with Stewart, who turned 58 in January. It was Stewart's second marriage following his first in 1979 to Alana Hamilton.
Alexander Joins Jag Spin-Off
Sasha Alexander, who played Gretchen Witter on the defunct WB series Dawson's Creek, is set to star in Navy CIS, a spin-off of CBS' veteran military legal drama JAG. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alexander will play a competitive Secret Service agent who joins the Naval Criminal Investigative Service team in the center of the show and butts heads with the team's leader, played by Mark Harmon. The series is scheduled to air in JAG's Tuesday 8 p.m. time slot.
Luther Vandross' Album No. 1
R&B singer Luther Vandross' new album, Dance With My Father, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Wednesday, selling about 442,000 units in its first week of release, according to industry retail monitor Nielsen SoundScan. Vandross, 52, suffered a serious stroke on April 16 and has since then been in the care of Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital. Last week, Vandross was finally moved out of intensive care and his manager reported he was growing more responsive each day.
Aiken and Studdard Release Singles
Clay Aiken, the runner-up on the Fox network's American Idol, saw his single debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's singles charts Wednesday, selling nearly 393,000 copies. "This Is The Night--Bridge Over Troubled Water" had the biggest debut since Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," which sold about 3.5 million in its first week in 1997. American Idol winner Ruben Studdard's single, "Flying Without Wings-Superstar" wasn't too far behind, selling about 286,000 copies. Since record companies have put out fewer and fewer singles in recent years, emphasizing the sales of albums, it has become rare to see No. 1 singles sell more than 20,000 copies in their first week.
Cher's Tour Outdoes Younger Acts
After more than 140 shows, Cher's Living Proof Farewell Tour has grossed $130 million and enters its second summer as one of the season's strongest draws, Reuters reports. The tour's success comes as a surprise, considering hyped summer tours such as Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey aren't doing quite the hoped-for business. Looks like the singer knows how to our her money where her mouth is: During her long-running farewell concert tour, the 57-year-old singer cracks a ringmaster's whip and issues a stern warning to would-be successors "J.Lo, Britney and Christina," challenging them to "top this, you bitches."
Role Call: Duchovny Makes Directing Debut
Former X-Files star David Duchovny will make his feature writing/directing debut with House of D, described as an emotional fable about New York and the power of friendship. Duchovny, who wrote and direct several episodes of The X-Files during its lengthy run on Fox, will also appear in the film alongside his wife, Tea Leoni, and Robin Williams. The pic is expected to begin production in September.