Something Borrowed presents the kinds of conundrums and moral dilemmas that we've seen on screen a million times before: what do you do when you have the hots for someone who doesn't want you in return? Or what if he does return your feelings, but he's already spoken for? These issues may exist beyond teenage years, but Something Borrowed is so fluffy that the film is more like an extra long episode of Gossip Girl than a realistic portrayal of love and friendship.
At the epicenter of the tangled web is mousy lawyer Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), who's spent her life loyally playing second fiddle to her outgoing, obnoxious-but-hot-so-she's-forgiven best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson). Rachel's self-esteem is at an all-time low on her 30th birthday, and after a few drinks she inadvertently admits to Darcy's fiancé Dex (Colin Egglesfield) that she had a crush on him during their law school days together. They end up in the sack, thus inciting a Summer of longing glances across the room, weekend rendezvous, and a whole lot of secret keeping. Though there are plenty of jokes along the way, ultimately there's no way to make light of the fact that we're supposed to be rooting for a relationship dripping with betrayal.
To see why Something Borrowed falls flat, just keep reading.
Director Luke Greenfield compiles a promising cast, but they're not much more than good-looking cartoon characters. Rachel could pass for a live action Cathy comic — she's so convinced that she isn't good enough that there's an actual incident in which she tells herself out loud that she sucks. We can all relate to a lack of confidence, but are we really expected to believe that cute Rachel is so far out of Dex's league? Meanwhile, Egglesfield is the perfect portrait of eye candy, but there's not much else to work with — Dex and Rachel's scenes together can be described as bland at best.
As with any guilty pleasure, there is some entertainment in Something Borrowed, due largely to Hudson and John Krasinski as Rachel's platonic BFF. Though Darcy is relentlessly selfish, she's kind of like that bitchy friend who's fun and entertaining as long as you're on her good side (a role Hudson seems to have no trouble playing at all). Meanwhile, Ethan acts as Rachel's cheerleader and voice of reason, but he's basically just there to provide zingers so the audience has something to laugh at as a distraction from the other characters' inner turmoil. Krasinski fits the part like a glove, but almost a little too perfectly: next to dreamy but vanilla Dex, it's almost impossible to believe that neither Rachel nor Darcy have ever looked at him as more than just a brother-type.
The film struggles to strike a balance between the theme of going after true love and the undying power of friendship, but the line becomes so blurred that it achieves neither. On a similar note, the script has its funny moments (mostly courtesy of Ethan's wisecracks and Darcy's over-the-top means of attracting attention), but the heavier scenes are filled with painfully heavy-handed dialogue. Nearly every serious conversation that takes place between Ethan and Rachel sounds like it's out of a self-help book.
That's the other issue with Something Borrowed. The film deserves some credit for daring to step outside the cookie-cutter romantic formula, but it's packed with so many clichés that it's not exactly original. Overwrought conversation made even more dramatic by rain? Check. Characters that seem to irritate everyone and yet still show up in half the scenes? You bet. Dance numbers that seem to come out of nowhere? (Yup, though I'll forgive those because really, who doesn't love a dance number?).
Usually I smile in spite of myself at the predictably cheesy happily-ever-after romantic comedy ending, but Something Borrowed doesn't even provide that high that only fantastical love can give you. Instead, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth and the message that relationships are more important than life-long friendships. It's meant to be a lesson in going after what you want, but the real takeaway is far more depressing: ladies, watch your backs.