romantic comedy

A Breakdown of Something Borrowed for Rom-Com Purists

Something Borrowed, the romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin as best friends in love with the same guy (Colin Egglesfield) while John Krasinski lurks around making jokes, comes out on Friday. The movie is being savaged by critics — it’s currently clocking in at 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes with some particularly vicious reviews — but, of course, rom-com lovers don’t care about good reviews, they care about conventions! Which romantic comedy beats does Something Borrowed hit, and how? Will you laugh? Will you cry? Will you be charmed by a choreographed dance routine? Find the answer to these questions and others in our breakdown of Something Borrowed for rom-com purists.

Rom-Com Subgenre
Wallflower Comes Into Her Own (Never Been Kissed) after Belated Soul-Mate Recognition (all rom-coms), which leads to Warring Best Friends (Bride Wars).

Ginnifer Goodwin (He’s Just Not That Into You); Kate Hudson (far too much experience in the field to name each film individually); John Krasinski (It’s Complicated, License to Wed, his Office story line); film is based on the chick-lit bestseller by Emily Giffin.

Barrier … to Love
He’s engaged … to her best friend!
She wants him to break it off … but is too scared to say so!
He wants to break it off … but it will upset his depressed mother!
The best friend doesn’t even really love him … but she needs to win!

Welcome Clichés
Choreographed dance scene in pajamas (to Salt n’ Pepa’s “Push It”)
Perfectly overbearing, demanding, selfish best friend
Good-times montage (of getting wasted on a beach in the Hamptons)

Unwelcome Clichés
Declaration of love in the rain
Hunky lawyer harbors secret sensitive ambitions to be a teacher
Inexplicable real estate setup (namely, a roof bed)
Very-pretty-in-real-life woman is supposed to be barely pretty in the movie, and to indicate this, is given horrible hairstyles.

Romantic Crescendo Locations
Back seat of a cab
Outside of bars
Outside of bars in the rain
Apartment rooftops
Brownstone stoops

Romance/Comedy Ratio

Tears Jerked
None. (Okay, fine, we saw someone cry at the very end, but we think that was weird and anomalous.)

Place on Rom-Com Quality Continuum:
Similar to the first Sex and the City film, Something Borrowed can be a bit of a downer. The cheaters, in this case, are both really “good” people who don’t want to hurt anyone. They are such “good people” they are, in fact, a little boring. (Something Borrowed is really about how a couple that is perfectly content to never leave the house comes to be.) Necessarily, their relationship is pretty much all angst and romance, leaving the comedy to Krasinski and Hudson, who adeptly crack wise and go full bitch, respectively. The movie’s basic “You have to ask for what you want” ethos is true enough, as is its insight that in long-term friendships, sometimes you put up with another person’s horrible personality defects because of your own less-obvious horrible personality defects. Best, and most rare of all, halfway through this film, you still may not know exactly how it’s going to end — not because the ending is a shock, but because there are four equally clichéd ways it could go: the protagonist ends up with her soul mate; her soul mate turns out to be a jerk; her best guy friend turns out to be her soul mate; her best girl friend turns out to be more important than any soul mate. Still, this is a movie about cheaters cheating. If the lack of all-out female-on-female violence makes Something Borrowed less superficially objectionable than Bride Wars, the protagonist’s guilt means it never attains the feel-good vibe of the best fiancé-stealing rom-coms (like Four Weddings and a Funeral), or even the feel-good vibe of your average fiancé-stealing rom-com (for examples of this subgenre, see here).

A Breakdown of Something Borrowed for Rom-Com Purists