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Something Borrowed (2011)
Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/16/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/21/2011
Several years ago, someone (I believe it was one of the MTV Movie Awards) did a spoof of "chick flicks" in which a movie intentionally tried to include every "chick flick" cliche, such as dancing in pajamas, or doing shots, or crying. While this idea is funny (and I remember it being quite funny. There was a famous director in the skit, but I can't recall who it was. If you remember, shoot me an e-mail.), we really shouldn't lump all movies aimed at women together. Surely there are some which want to break the mold and do their own thing. However, Something Borrowed isn't that movie. In fact, while watching it, all that I could think of was the list of "chick flick" cliches and how this movie was checking them off one-by-one.
In Something Borrowed, we meet Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson), lifelong friends. As the movie opens, Rachel has turned 30 and she's not very happy in her life. Darcy is engaged to Dex (Colin Egglesfield), whom she meet through Rachel. Rachel and Dex went to law school together and Rachel never had the courage to let him know that she was attracted to him. Before she could, Darcy came along and snagged him. Now, Rachel spends most of her time complaining to her best friend, Ethan (John Krasinski), how miserable she is. However, on the night of her surprise party, she spends the night with Dex and is finally able to tell him how she feels. Now, they are both torn by their devotion to Darcy. Rachel really wants to be with Dex, but she doesn't want to hurt her best friend. As the wedding approaches, Rachel and Dex grow closer, and her feelings of guilt grow larger.
Despite the mocking tone of the opening paragraph, there is a formula to a successful "chick flick", and, again, Something Borrowed seems to be following this very closely. However, there is one significant place where it diverges from the plan. Most "chick flicks" are predominantly dramas with some comic relief thrown in here and there to keep things from getting too depressing. And, there is usually one quirky character who helps to keep things light. For example, Hope Floats is a terrible, sad movie, but the weird little boy who keeps changing clothes was funny. Somehow (and for some reason), Something Borrowed mixes this up. On the surface, the movie wants to be a comedy. John Krasinski (the only good thing in the movie) does nothing but deliver one-liners, while Steve Howey, as the intrusive Marcus, brings enough oddness for two quirky characters. Ashley Williams appears as a love-sick girl who won't stop chasing Ethan. Kate Hudson makes weird faces throughout. However, all of this is lying on top of a movie in which the attraction between two people threatens to stop a wedding and end long-time friendships. This is some fairly strong subject matter to ply with silly comedy.
This uneven tone is just one of the many flaws found in Something Borrowed, and it epitomizes how the movie can't seem to decide what it wants to be. For example, the movie doesn't waste all that much time in letting us know that Darcy is the villain of the piece -- she's not good enough for Dex and probably doesn't love him. However, it never goes as far as it needs to. The movie hints at just how shallow, conniving, and evil she is, but this plot-threads are left unexplored. There are some deleted scenes which highlight more of this. It's as if they were afraid to make Darcy completely unlikable. On the one hand, this makes sense, as we want to feel the moral dilemma that Rachel is feeling, but on the other hand, it's almost as if they merely wanted to paint the character as a scamp, but not a completely bad person. Was this because Kate Hudson was in the role, and we're not supposed to see her that way? By the end, we pretty much hate Darcy anyway, so they should have gone for it.
On the flipside, there's not much to like about Rachel and Dex. Both are wishy-washy lifeless characters. I'm not sure who it is in Hollywood who's determined to make Ginnifer Goodwin a star, but they need to give it a rest. She's good in supporting roles, but she doesn't have what it takes to carry a movie. Speaking of supporting roles, it's usually the second-tier characters who makes movies like this work. (I hate the main story in Failure to Launch, but Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Zooey Deschanel, and Terry Bradshaw make that movie worth watching.) However, as noted above, the side-characters are simply too much here. A little bit of Marcus and Claire would have been a much-needed distraction, but bringing them to the forefront added subplots which this movie didn't need. Again, Krasinski is the best part of the movie, but he often seems to be in a different movie. This is simply Jim from The Office caught up in a drama from which he can't escape.
There's nothing original happening in Something Borrowed, but the movie could have been charming fun if the proper balance could have been struck. However, as it stands, it's two hours of banality which never elicits any emotional response. Not to mention, this is one of those films where the characters talk about work, but we never really see them at work, but they have plenty of time for beach getaways. Is that what we want to see?
Something Borrowed does get kudos for one of the better badminton scenes which I've seen lately on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 15 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only mild grain and no defects from the source material. I was surprised by the low bitrate found here, as the transfer doesn't look awful, but it's not perfect either. It's most noticeable problem is softness in some shots, and thus, a lack of detail. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. Some shots look a bit flat. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a "chick flick", we get some powerful subwoofer action from the music in the opening scene. The first beach montage features an awful song which is well-place in the front and rear channels. Street scenes provide notable stereo and surround effects with are nicely detailed.
The Something Borrowed Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. "Something...Old?" (4 minutes) has the cast and creative team discussing the relevance of turning 30, as Rachel does in the movie. "On Location Tours with Emily Giffin" (5 minutes) is an odd piece which shows author Giffin on the Today show (with distorted audio), and then we get to see her awkward visit with fans on a tour bus. "Marcus' Guide to the Ladies" (7 minutes) has actor Steve Howey in character giving us advice on how to have sex with a stranger. Is that cool? This has clips from the movie which illustrate his points. "What is 'something borrowed'" (2 minutes) gives us an overview of the plot of the movie we just watched. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. We get a lengthy scene in which Dex overhears Darcy telling Rachel what kind of lover he is, and two scenes which reveal that Darcy was conniving going back to elementary school. "Inside Something Borrowed" (3 minutes) is another overview of the plot of the movie we just watched. Why do they keep reminding me about the movie? Lastly, we get a 6 minute GAG REEL.
Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long