There are bizarre moments in Something Borrowed, where the faintest pulse of something with emotional and literary merit can be detected. Whether these moments are traces of the source material (which I don’t understand to be particularly great, but I can’t say for sure) or are simply small bits of truth and reality that accidentally slipped in amongst the cheap humor, romantic comedy cliches, and utterly illogical shit that keeps happening… again, I can’t say. What I can say is that Something Borrowed is not only a trite, painful piece of romantic fluff, it’s also more than a little bit evil.
The basic set-up is that two best friends are breaking into their 30s, with the spunky blonde –Darcy– about to get married to a guy –Dex– who looks and acts distractingly like Tom Cruise, while the quieter, Hollywood-homely girl –Rachel– is married to her career with no real romantic prospects. A series of flashbacks tells us that Rachel and Dex almost had a thing going in law school, before Darcy swooped in and took advantage of Rachel’s hesitance to steal the Tom Cruise guy for herself. Now, years later, Dex and Rachel accidentally have super-awesome sex shortly before the big wedding, and end up turning it into a summer-long affair as they explore what they’ve always secretly felt for each other. The trio and their friends all go on weekend trips to the Hamptons all summer and live in great apartments and pretty much treat each other like shit. A completely unreal set of human beings, I’m not sure how anyone could ever grow affectionate for the group’s dynamic, so it’s not really such a huge deal when the film tears it to shreds.
And that’s the problem- there’s not much to dive into the film except to say it’s filled with pretty people, and several of them are charming folks. They all make huge mistakes across the course of the story, and even a character like Ethan, Rachel’s best friend and guiding council, is the only one in the movie with any moral high-ground, and he’s pretty much a dick*. So you’re left with a film filled with characters living lifestyles that are obviously expensive (read: unrelatable) but painfully boring, and they’re all being terrible friends.
Several times towards the climax the film acts as if it’s going to take an unexpected turn and make a statement, but it always falls short and pulls back. Ultimately everything turns out how “it should,” except that the film has essentially slit one of its character’s throats, sacrificing them at the alter of romance ex machina. Imagine mobsters on a boat, loading a body with chains so that it will sink in the ocean, and you might have an idea what Something Borrowed has to do to make everything seem okay in the end.
Perhaps it’s noble that the film leaves some romantic strands untied, or that a few characters have to face truths that do trouble us in real life, but any power these choices have are diluted by the moral bankruptcy of everything else that happens. They’re also lost amidst a sea of confusion as characters randomly show up in places for no good reason, other than to trigger very specific emotional changes. The screenwriting is absolutely awful, with so many coincidental meet-ups and unexplained character appearances that it feels like they just shot every given scene with whatever actors showed up that day. The character’s themselves often seem baffled by who they’re surrounded with at any given time.
There’s no level on which I can recommend Something Borrowed, and have nothing but my deepest condolences to offer to anyone dragged to see it. It’s not a bad looking film, and it’s not so aggressively stupid in the way some of the more comedy-reliant rom-coms so often are, but at best you’ll walk away with nothing. At worst, you’ll leave wondering why anyone ever thought these characters were worth an audience’s money, time, or attention.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars
*It’s worth nothing that John Krasinski plays a pretty decent charming dick- a guy who toes the line of likability a little harder than his usual characters. There’s also something about him that really makes you think he wouldn’t have been such a bad choice for Captain America.