Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson play lifelong best friends whose bond is strained when the sheepish good girl sleeps with her bossy gal pal’s fiance in “Something Borrowed.” Based on Emily Giffin’s beach-read bestseller, this relatively charmless adaptation centers on the relatable-enough panic of watching one’s ideal partner tie the knot with the wrong person, but ditches all the elements that link the premise to real life, skidding off into irreconcilable differences long before the wedding. Chick-pic appeal should ensure a modest domestic opening, though the film’s many miscalculations will sabotage its chances at a lasting connection with auds.
Six years after introducing law-school study buddy Dex (Colin Egglesfield) to best friend Darcy (Hudson), still-single Gotham attorney Rachel (Goodwin) realizes she’s made a mistake. Turns out Dex is the man of her dreams — a fact she has somehow refused to admit until the pair end up sleeping together on the night of Rachel’s 30th birthday party.
Such a fling might be the start of a promising relationship, if only Dex weren’t engaged to Darcy, the overbearing attention hog who “always wins,” as Rachel puts it. In Hudson’s hands, Darcy is such an unpleasant egotist, it’s a wonder either Dex or Rachel can stand to have anything to do with her, and apart from some antiquated notion of duty, it’s not clear why they don’t just ditch her and get together instead.
Such passivity is all too common in real-world relationships, but makes for frustrating onscreen entertainment, with neither party strong enough to do the right thing. And so the affair continues undetected by Darcy (and chastened considerably from the novel, focusing more on guilt than pleasure), while the two backstabbers try to work out their next move.
A series of bad decisions would be better than no decision at all, but there’s no inertia to Jennie Synder’s screenplay, as every scene brings the characters closer to the wedding — as if an exchange of vows might realistically put the issue to rest. Backed by a big-enough budget to make things look slick, director Luke Greenfield is too busy selling the lifestyle (a trip out to Darcy’s usual Hamptons getaway begins with a montage of high-end retail establishments) to recognize the universal aspects of Rachel’s situation. That leaves the story dangling somewhere between soap opera and sitcom, offering up such distractions as meathead suitor Marcus (Steve Howey), a horny creep ineptly competing for Rachel’s attention, and third wheel Ethan (John Krasinski), who must play gay to ditch a clingy one-night stand (Ashley Williams).
Try as she might, Hudson can’t turn Darcy into a three-dimensional character: She’s astonishingly easy to dislike, but not nearly amusing enough in what could have been an unforgettable camp performance. And so, in the absence of a naturally comedic cast, Krasinski becomes the go-to guy for funny cutaways, with “The Office” thesp delivering his trademark monkey-face expressions whenever the other characters do something weird. Even with nothing more to do, he’s a more plausible love interest than Egglesfield’s Dex, a Tom Cruise-handsome rich kid who’s spent his whole life trying to please his parents.
“Something Borrowed” aims to be this decade’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” which also hinged on our forgiving a frantic woman’s increasingly desperate efforts to break up an engagement. Goodwin earns sympathy points playing someone who’s convinced herself she doesn’t deserve happiness, though just a soupcon of silliness would have really endeared us to her character.
After all, auds love movies about people who risk it all, crazy lovesick fools who play boomboxes outside bedroom windows or confess their love in the rain. But by the time the equivalent scene finally comes around here, it’s too late. Dex and Rachel are like a pair of perfectly matched doormats, which makes the “To be continued … ” tag over the end credits all the more horrifying, when you consider how poorly these two do under pressure.