Bridesmaids/Something Borrowed – Part 2: Something Borrowed
May 25, 2011 12 Comments
Both of these films have the least sympathetic protagonists in years. In Bridesmaids, it was Annie. In Something Borrowed, it’s Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin).
Something Borrowed (Or the case of Love Justifies Everything):
Something Borrowed goes something like this: Rachel’s best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson) is getting married to Dex (Colin Egglesfield). Rachel had a crush on Dex during law school but was too timid to ask him out or show her true feelings for him, and even though he’s been dating Darcy for six years she’s still in love with him. Moving on is not one of the character’s strong suits.
Even more surprising than Rachel’s unrequited love for Dex is that he has the same feelings for her. Once again, I wonder about the logic of these characters. So Dex has loved Rachel for six years but instead of actually, y’know, being with her, he dates her best friend Darcy instead (and then proposes to her). Riigght.
SPOILER ALERT: They sleep together. Like a month before the wedding. Remove “timing” from their strong suits.
In any normal situation, no one would sympathize with Rachel. Just imagine this exchange on the street with two old friends:
Old Friend #1: Hey, did you hear about Darcy’s best friend Rachel? She slept with the groom a month before the wedding.
Old Friend #2: OMG. What a bitch.
Old Friend #1: I know right? I mean, that was Darcy’s fiancee, what kind of person do you have to be to do something like that?
Old Friend #2: Well I dunno, maybe she loved the groom for a really long time, and he loved her back for a really long time, and maybe they’re meant to be together?
Old Friend #1 looks at #2 with a questioning glance.
Old Friend #2: Okay, still a bitch.
So how does the movie reconcile this apparently clear-cut assessment of Rachel’s character? By making Darcy an awful human being. Isn’t that nice how everything works out in the end?
Here’s the thing: Rachel and Darcy don’t have a friendship. They have a competition. Darcy is an alcoholic party animal (the movie gives no indication of what her job is though signs point to trust fund baby) and her interactions with Rachel are either strained or flat-out unconvincing (I’m thinking of a climatic scene where Darcy has a sleepover with Rachel and they decide to burst out into a spontaneous choreographed dance, despite Rachel having just had an emotional conversation with Dex on the phone. But hey, when I’m hiding a affair with my best friend’s fiancee with my best friend in the room, the first thing I want to do is dance to Salt-n-Pepa too. Understandable). In real life, these two characters would not be best friends. They may have been in high school, but once Rachel started law school and Darcy found gin, that friendship would’ve evaporated.
I can’t stand movies like this because they manage to shoehorn a horrible and distasteful action into something socially acceptable. It’s okay that Dex and Rachel slept together, because they’re truly in love. And when two people are truly in love, everything will work itself out. Like Darcy won’t actually be in love with Dex. And when they break up she’ll immediately have a new relationship. And Dex’s parents or guests won’t care. They’ll just be happy that their son found the person he should truly be with, no matter how many people had to be emotionally crushed along the way. Love in romantic comedies becomes the justification for the most heinous actions. Replace “Love” with “God” and “Romantic Comedy Characters” with “Fundamentalist Right-Wing Christian Groups” and maybe you’ll see why I find films of this ilk so distasteful.
So why did I hate Rachel? It actually has nothing to do with the fact that she slept with Dex and ruined her best friend’s six-year relationship. I could have cared less. I didn’t like her because she‘s dumb. The film is littered with flashbacks of her fond memories of law school with Dex. In the pivotal moment when Darcy “steals” Dex from Rachel she’s given about fifty chances to say that she’s not okay with her best friend dating her crush. Instead of just saying that she’s not okay with it…she says that she is okay with it, over and over again. The logic of the two characters who apparently graduated from law school is frightening, to say the least.
Here’s a final caveat (SPOILER ALERT):
John Krasinski’s character admits that he is in love with Rachel, and has been for a long time. Rachel looks at him, nods her head, and gives him the “thanks-but-no-thanks” spiel. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The movie makes it pretty clear that its okay if Darcy’s feelings are trampled all over (by making her a complete tool), but I didn’t realize that extended to EVERYONE who gets in the way of the Rachel-Dex courtship. Unbelievable.
Something Borrowed should be renamed to Something Shitty.