here are many ways to sabotage a romantic comedy — throw in the tired pop-music montage in a dressing room, have someone race to the airport in the penultimate scene, cast Jennifer Lopez in a lead role — but Something Borrowed commits the most fatal mistake of all: Its characters are so deeply uninteresting that the audience can’t get invested in their eventual happiness.
In this draggy film, one-dimensional best friends Rachel and Darcy (Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson, the latter also being something of a curse to romantic comedies, just in case you forgot Fool’s Gold or Bride Wars)are in love with the same one-dimensional guy, Dex (Colin Egglesfield). Rachel knew him first, in law school. But Darcy has the upper hand: She’s engaged to Dex, after snatching him up when Rachel was too wishy-washy to let him know how she felt. Then everything changes on Rachel’s 30th birthday, when Darcy goes home drunk early from a party, and Rachel and Dex finally get around to doing what they should have done years before.
The love triangle is a great staple of romcoms, but each Something Borrowed character has only one identifying personality trait, rendering him or her virtually impervious to emotional pain. You don’t need Shakespearean tragedy here, but a little agony or self doubt would have made the finale more satisfying. Darcy, though, is such a harpy you never feel bad that her best friend is betraying her; when she and Dex meet, he asks, “Are you always this obnoxious?” The obvious conclusion after about five minutes is: yes.
Nor can you feel much empathy toward any idiot who would willingly tie himself to this self-absorbed, shallow, spotlight-mongerer. Of course Dex’s chief character trait is Tom Cruise handsomeness, not intelligence. He’s a lawyer, but just how smart is a guy who’d willingly shackle himself to the most tiresome woman on the planet when he prefers her BFF? Then again, Rachel’s tragic blandness doesn’t do much for her allure. Darcy is annoying, but mopey Rachel would put anyone right to sleep.
The only one who emerges from the film with dignity is John Krasinski (The Office) as a childhood friend of Darcy and Rachel. Krasinski doesn’t do more than his usual nice-guy Jim Halpert schtick — will someone please cast this guy in a different role, just so we can see if he’s capable of more? — but he’s funny, at least, even if his character exists solely to present Rachel with an option.
The ending presents a problem, too. It’s a cop-out, giving Rachel and Dex no real reason to feel guilty or examine their behavior. A romantic comedy doesn’t have to be serious, but it should be morally cogent. Something Borrowed is morally muddled instead.
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski.
Director: Luke Greenfield.
Screenwriter: Jennie Snyder. Based on the novel by Emily Giffin.
Producers: Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, Aaron Lubin, Pamela Schein Murphy, Molly Smith, Hilary Swank.
A Warner Bros. studios release. Running time: 103 minutes. Sexual content including dialogue, some drug material. Playing at: area theaters.