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Movie Review

Something Borrowed

‘Borrowed’ has little to offer

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By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / May 6, 2011

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‘Something Borrowed’’ is carrion that Kate Hudson circles like a vulture. I don’t know whether she’s drunk, stoned, or simply out of her mind, but if it weren’t so sad watching her pick away at this skimpy, overlong romantic lie, she might be entertaining. Either way, she appears to be making the most of a miserable situation. The movie is based on a popular work of so-called chick lit by Emily Giffin that peddles the usual nightmares about female friendships: that they’re all one man away from ruin.

Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Dex (Colin Egglesfield) went to law school together. They’re clearly attracted to each other. But when Rachel’s best friend, Darcy (Hudson), asks him out, Rachel lets her have him. Six years later, the most improbable thing happens: Rachel and Dex start an affair, even though Darcy and Dex are getting married — though, to be fair, they seem brought together less by love than alliteration. What could this preppy, woodworked man see in one of Hudson’s patented freaky frenemies? I suppose, in asking, I’ve fallen into the trap of an entire wing of the publishing industry. The intended lesson of “Something Borrowed’’ is that a woman as basic as Rachel could win the heart of a man whose name rhymes with “simplex.’’

The movie fails to see that Rachel and Dex deserve each other because they’re mutually boring. “I didn’t think someone like you could like someone like me,’’ says she to he. Does she mean that special kind of love in which a species of plant is completely adored by a piece of office furniture? Goodwin here is like a 1940s or 1950s ingenue who’s scared she’s past her expiration date and hates herself for it. With “Mona Lisa Smile,’’ “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!,’’ HBO’s “Big Love,’’ “He’s Just Not That Into You,’’ and this new movie, Goodwin has turned naivete, self-pity, and niceness into a dubious career strategy. But there’s nothing sexy about altruism.

That’s how Hudson steals this movie — by not caring. What she does in “Something Borrowed’’ isn’t coherent or even very good. But it’s something. Whether Darcy is saying she hates Rachel’s shoes, piercing the stale air of propriety with questions about penis size, or making you wonder whether she’ll just break down and murder everybody, Hudson’s entire performance is one enormous whatever.

The filmmaking is as plain as its protagonist and as “who cares?’’ as its antagonist. Logy trips to the Hamptons, with friends of Rachel and Darcy, played by Steve Howey, Ashley Williams, and John Krasinski, never produce as much farce as they should, just a clogged soundtrack. Whenever Rachel remembers something, the camera gets close to Goodwin’s face, a montage belches up, and we’re plunked inside a flashback to some dewy law-school moment between the former classmates. The director, Luke Greenfield, concocts a pulse-less preppy New York and, for comedy, tosses in clips of “Fatal Attraction,’’ as if a remake were in the offing. At some point Krasinski’s character, who’s like the gay friend, the wacky neighbor, the best gal pal, and Ralph Bellamy (all with Karl Malden’s nose), remarks that the Hamptons are “like a zombie movie directed by Ralph Lauren.’’ The rest of “Something Borrowed’’ is like a Ralph Lauren movie directed by a zombie.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com.

SOMETHING BORROWED

Directed by: Luke Greenfield

Written by: Jennie Snyder, adapted from the novel by Emily Giffin

Starring: Ginnfier Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, and John Krasinski

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 120 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (language, a scene of drug use, and sexual content, but it’s like two inanimate objects stacked atop each other)

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