Romantic comedies aren’t designed to challenge their audience. They’re meant as the most disposable of mainstream movies where a couple or an aspiring couple can go on a date, look at the love they want to have, and then leave for a night of necking and heavy petting. If it were a more mature film and not the cinematic equivalent of a tissue, Something Borrowed would trust its audience to understand that the lead characters are good people who have done a bad thing but not an unforgivable thing. Instead, the movie twists itself into knots trying to clear our consciences, get us to root for male and female lead, and hate Kate Hudson with every fiber of our being. John Krasinski does his best to save the film, but it’s not enough to overcome the conceit of watching two people do their best to keep their love alive while sparing the feelings of their obnoxious friend/fiancée.
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) has committed the cardinal sin of a rom-com by being cute instead of hot. Her lack of self-confidence led to her letting her ridiculously handsome friend Dex (Colin Egglesfield) get stolen away by her lifelong friend Darcy (Hudson). Six years later, Dex and Darcy are on the verge of getting married, but after Rachel’s birthday party, Rachel and Dex sleep together. They try to brush it off as a mistake, but realize they have real feelings for each other. However, neither one has the courage to call off the wedding because neither can get over their own insecurities. It’s a deplorable action but Goodwin and Egglesfield are inoffensive enough that we don’t hate them, but we never understand why they wouldn’t want to hurt Darcy.
In a better movie, Darcy is a sweet, likable character who may have some faults and may not be right for Dex, but the direction for Hudson was clearly “Act as unlikable as possible. Also, if your character could always seem drunk for some reason, that would be terrific.” The film has to rest on the basis that Rachel and Dex don’t want to hurt the feelings of someone they love, but because Something Borrowed is working extra hard to make us not feel conflicted, it turns Darcy into a narcissistic harpy. There’s not a single scene showing how Darcy enriches the lives of those around her.
The only person who seems to realize that Darcy is a terrible person is Rachel’s and Darcy’s childhood friend Ethan (Krasinski). Even though the movie gives him a sitcom level subplot (A cute but crazy chick wants him! He tells her he’s gay! Shenanigans!), Krasinski plays the role like a champ acting as both the movie’s comic relief and as an audience surrogate. When we’ve grown tired of Rachel’s self-pity, Ethan is the one who yells at her that she needs to sack up and tell Darcy what’s going on with Dex because Dex certainly isn’t going to do it. And it’s not because Ethan likes Darcy. Like us, he thinks she’s obnoxious and he spends the film bewildered as to why anyone else is enamored of her. While Krasinski’s role on The Office usually demands nothing more than a sarcastic quip and mugging for the camera, in movies like Away We Go, Leatherheads, It’s Complicated, and now Something Borrowed, he’s shown that he’s a comic force to be reckoned with.
Something Borrowed thinks it’s doing the audience a favor by making Darcy one of the worst people ever so that we won’t feel conflicted about her best friend and fiancée sleeping together. But apparently no one considered that such a move would simply make Dex and Rachel appear even more cowardly since there’s no reason to protect the feelings of such a selfish, insensitive, callow human being. When the character relationships become this baffling, the mind tends to drift and you notice all of the film’s other faults like director Luke Greenfield’s lack of comic timing, odd Wild Things reference, and that a better title for the film would be Heineken Presents He’s Out of My League.