Something stinks

Unsavory characters sink Something Borrowed.

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Moral-dilemma plots are sticky. When characters at the centerpiece of a film behave badly, the writing needs to ensure that they're likable or entertaining to make up for it. But in cookie-cutter Hollywood rom-coms like Something Borrowed, this truism is simply ignored for the easier (more hackneyed) option of making those characters morally wronged by the hero into just horrible, horrible people.

So, here we have Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) as our would-be lovable and geeky heroine who always puts others first, especially her best friend, the conniving and self-centered Darcy (Kate Hudson). When Rachel shares a kiss with Darcy's fiancé after her 30th birthday party (and subsequently wakes up naked in bed with him with no idea how she got there), we feel Rachel’s absolute shame and the panic that this causes. So, she's loved him since they were in law school together, so what? This is in no way anything other than a horrible mistake made in the haze of intoxication, right?

Well, no. Fiancé Dex (Colin Egglesfield) readily admits that he just wasn't that drunk and continues to pursue Rachel, suggesting illicit weekend holidays with her while Darcy is off partying in the Hamptons, and stealing kisses from her while he’s checking out potential bands for his wedding reception. We also observe him checking out houses with his fiancée, flirting with her on the beach, and we hear some raucous sex at one point. Don't get me wrong; Rachel should not be playing along with this. But, Jesus, Dex is a douchebag. And that would be fine as the premise for a film if we weren't meant to feel all squishy and romantic about what they're doing. As it stands, Dex isn't supposed to be a douche, he's supposed to be the romantic lead. Really.

The lone voice of reason throughout this thing is Rachel's best friend, Ethan (John Krasinski — essentially still playing The Office’s Jim Halpert). He has a healthy disdain for most of the people involved in this sordid love triangle, and continually begs Rachel to either ask Dex to exit his engagement or to stop seeing him entirely.

The Ethan subplots — which are genuinely funny and entertaining — are possibly the only tolerable thing in this film. If the movie had been about him, his obvious crush on Rachel, and his shenanigans in general (he moves to London with little plot necessity or warning), Something Borrowed would've probably been lots of fun. Instead, we watch a series of unhealthy relationships descend into further dysfunction, with at least one spontaneous choreographed dance sequence that ends in slow motion. Really.

Furthermore, for some reason, Something Borrowed doesn't end with Rachel giving everyone but Ethan the finger and moving on with her life, which I’m convinced would've been the only option for a satisfying ending. Instead, lazy writing has crammed fairly dark subject matter and vaguely sociopathic characters into a film that's supposed to be a romantic comedy. It just doesn't work.

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