"Rumor Has It" was one of the big releases last Christmas, but the film got a rather chilly critical reception and audiences were drawn away by the other holiday offerings. After watching the film, I was surprised to actually find it a moderately pleasant surprise. This is certainly by no means a comedy without some notable flaws, but it offers some patches of funny dialogue, enjoyable performances and moves along quickly at only 97 minutes.
"Rumor" has Aniston starring as Sarah Huttinger, an obit writer who is nervously engaged to Jeff (Mark Ruffalo), although she's having trouble with the idea of comitting. The two are headed out to Pasadena to celebrate the upcoming marriage of her hyper sister, Annie (Mena Suvari) and, while there, Sarah happens to stumble onto the fact that her grandmother, Katharine Richelieu (Shirley MacLaine), is the real-life Mrs. Robinson of "Graduate" fame.
She always wonders if she's her father's child since they're so different, so she goes off to find the real Benjamin Braddock, actually named Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner), who's now a .com millionaire (she listens to him give a blandly written speech on the internet at a confrence) living in San Fransisco. After assuring her that he's not her father because he's sterile due to a sports accident, she decides to sleep with him.
It's at that point that the picture runs off the rails, at least for a little while. It's never really believable that she would suddenly sleep with Burroughs and the aftermath - where she again gets reason to question whether he really is her father before again finding out he's not - is just weird and not funny (if that's what it was going for.) In terms of relationships, Aniston doesn't fare much better with Mark Ruffalo, who's stuck with a rather limited and thankless role. He showed considerably better chemistry with Jennifer Garner in "13 Going on 30". His lack of chemistry with Aniston (and Aniston doesn't have that much chemistry with Costner, either), as well as some of the story choices the picture makes, results in the picture's ending not working too well.
Still, the picture isn't without it's positive aspects. McClaine is terrific, giving her lines a snap that the rest of the picture needs. Richard Jenkins is also quite good as her father, as once the picture decends into sentimentality towards the end, his performance remains at least believable. Costner has played this role before (see "Upside of Anger") and really is not working with much of a character here, but he manages to give it the sort of relaxed charm that comes from probably doing scenes between rounds of golf, "Tin Cup"-style.
"Rumor" does have a better first half and one can pick out some fixes that could have helped, including losing Suvari's character, who - by the end of the picture - doesn't seem like she was really of all that much use. As is, the movie runs a brisk 97 minutes, but a tighter focus could have resulted in more time to develop the story and main characters. Furthermore, There had to be a better route for the Costner and Aniston characters than the strange, rather sitcom-ish way the picture goes. Additionally, "The Graduate" concept, which is kind of a cute bit in Ted Griffin's script (Griffin was replaced as director by Rob Reiner, but retains script credit - one wonders how much of Griffin's original script was used), really becomes rather forgotten about as the picture heads further into the second half.
Overall, "Rumor Has It" offers a fine cast, but the picture never quite seems to know quite where to head and once it goes for the drama in the second half, it doesn't work quite as well. Again, this isn't a great comedy or as good as it had the potential to be, but the bits of dialogue, specific scenes and performances that I felt worked added up to enough to keep my interest.
VIDEO: "Rumor Has It..." is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality wasn't dazzling, but this was a largely pleasing presentation that showed only a couple of minor concerns at times. Sharpness and detail were mostly quite good, with only a few slightly soft spots.
The picture showed some slight instances of edge enhancement, but no pixelation or print flaws were spotted. The majority of the film looked crisp and clean, with no apparent problems. Colors remained bright and nicely warm, with no smearing or other concerns. Overall, this was a pretty nice effort from the studio.
SOUND: "Rumor Has It..." is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's audio is a very standard "comedy mix", keeping pretty much everything in the front speakers. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: The film's trailer. I guess no one involved wanted to discuss the production.
Final Thoughts: "Rumor Has It" is a decent date night rental. While the movie does have some issues and had potential to be considerably better, elements of it worked well enough to keep my interest. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but the only extra is the trailer. Those interested should rent it.