Sometimes, the characters in a movie are its greatest weakness. Such is the case for Something Borrowed, an unpleasant romantic comedy based on Emily Giffin's popular novel. Nothing is off limits to these Manhattan yuppies, who find time to wreak havoc on each other's love lives between trips to the Hamptons and daily lunches uptown. Director Luke Greenfield competently stages the action, but the talents of actors Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski and Kate Hudson are wasted on a group of selfish, irritating characters.
On the eve of Rachel White's (Goodwin) 30th birthday, she attends a surprise party hosted by her best friend Darcy Rhone (Hudson). Darcy gets so drunk that her fiancé, Dex Thaler (Colin Egglesfield), carts her home, only to return later in search of Darcy's missing designer purse. Rachel secretly loved Dex during law school, but inadvertently set him up with Darcy and ignored her feelings. Rachel and Dex share a cab home after finding the purse, but, after Rachel reveals her long-smoldering secret, the pair sleeps together. This creates quite the dilemma, as sweet, mousy Rachel's decision to bang her best friend's fiancé comes right in the middle of Darcy's wedding planning.
Something Borrowed might have been over quickly had Rachel and Dex just accepted that they were always meant to be together and left all the baggage behind. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Dex loves Darcy, maybe, and his upcoming wedding is the only thing keeping his depressed mother from finishing a bottle of Lunesta. He tries to ask his dad for advice, but gets smacked down like a bratty child. Rachel and Dex continue to hook up on the sly, and neither is willing to make any sort of concession to move their relationship forward. And then there is the problem of Darcy, who is the least likable of all the characters. Always the center of attention, Darcy gets what she wants by screeching, pouting and flirting her way through life. Darcy is also a liar. One of the few things I liked about Something Borrowed is the bit about how Darcy has manipulated all of her close relationships. Rachel feels inferior to Darcy because her friend Ethan (Krasinski) picked Darcy to date in grade school and because Darcy got into Notre Dame. Only these things never happened. Darcy promised to let Ethan get to second base if he picked her, and she never got into Notre Dame.
Since Rachel is the protagonist of the film, one might assume she is easy to root for. That is not the case because, while she may not be as obnoxious as Darcy, Rachel is the one sleeping with her best friend's fiancé. Something Borrowed tries to justify this with numerous flashbacks to Rachel fawning over Dex at school, but none of these scenes excuses her later behavior. Dex is also a loser. He lets Darcy walk all over him, cowers in front of his father and stumbles around like a helpless puppy during much of the film. The only genuine character is Ethan, who calls Rachel out on her bullshit and tries to bully Dex into making a decision about Darcy. I thought Something Borrowed might go the conventional, if not unpleasant, route of pairing Rachel with Ethan, but it instead turns Ethan into a bit of a jerk, making it easier for Rachel to discard him.
If the unpleasantness in the first two-thirds of Something Borrowed wasn't enough, the film foolishly tries to rehabilitate Rachel's character by having Darcy reveal that she cheated on Dex with her insufferable friend Marcus (Steve Howey). This gives Rachel a green light to rat out Darcy and steal Dex without any guilt, but Rachel conveniently finds a conscience in the final act. Nothing about Something Borrowed is technically awful. The acting and direction are fine, and the film was shot in some nice locations. I just cannot get the bad taste left by the characters out of my mouth. The film leaves open the possibility of a sequel - Giffin's next book is titled "Something Blue" - but unless Rachel, Darcy and Dex are killed off in the opening scene, you can count me out.
Warner Brothers' 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer for Something Borrowed is nice and shiny. Detail is generally excellent, and the image retains a light layer of grain. Colors are well saturated and complement the film's warm appearance, and skin tones are natural. Black levels are also good, and I noticed only minor shimmering. The image does have a soft appearance in spots, but this is likely the director's intent.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is mostly front-loaded, but that's to be expected for a romantic comedy. Dialogue is always clear, and the occasional ambient effects never overwhelm the proceedings. The movie uses a number of pop songs, which sound deep and brassy. Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish tracks are also available, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Warner Brothers presents Something Borrowed on Blu-ray as a "combo pack" release that also includes a DVD and a digital copy of the film. A slipcover wraps the Blu-ray eco-case.
Extras appear numerous, but most are short and shallow. Something...Old (3:50) is a short piece on turning 30, and On Location Tours with Emily Giffin (4:51) sees the author take some fans to the set of the movie. Marcus' Guide to the Ladies (6:41) is as annoying as the character, and What is Something Borrowed? (1:46) attempts to explain the film's title. Left Off the Guest List (7:38) is actually a reel of deleted scenes, and these, along with the Gag Reel (5:34), are funnier than most of the final film. The extras conclude with the short Inside Something Borrowed (2:31), during which cast and crew congratulate each other on a job well done.
Something Borrowed may be based on Emily Giffin's popular novel, but I just can't shake my disgust for its unlikable characters. Attorney Rachel White sleeps with her best friend's fiancé, and the film spends the next 90 minutes trying to justify their indiscretions. The talents of Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski are wasted on irritating characters that do truly stupid things. Something Borrowed is an unpleasant look at love. Skip It.
*The screen grabs in this review were taken from the standard-definition DVD included with the set and do not represent the image quality of the Blu-ray.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.