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Rumor Has It (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Not a bad idea. Take the basis for the book “The Graduate” (1969), which was apparently based on an actual occurrence in Pasadena, and update it to determine in a comedic way, how the characters’ descendants were affected by what happened. Get Rob Reiner (“When Harry Met Sally” 1989) to direct, Kevin Costner, Jennifer Aniston, Shirley McLaine, and  Mark Ruffalo to star and it’ll be a rollicking comedy.

Yeah, good idea; bad execution. Although Aniston does a yeoman’s job to save this thing, and although Ruffalo is good enough to garner an Oscar nomination, this film is terribly disappointing. The script (T.M. Griffin) and direction just fall short. Rather than a rollicking comedy, this is just a 90 minute story with little substance and almost no believability.

We are supposed to buy the idea that Sarah Huttinger (Aniston), a nice girl who is engaged to Jeff Daly (Ruffalo), a nice guy, would jump into bed with Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) who bedded both her mother and her grandmother (Shirley McLaine). Maybe there are women who would find this an attractive proposition (my date for the screening didn’t) but the way Sarah is presented, she doesn’t look like a likely candidate for such an adventure. She’s nervous about marrying the man she loves, for heaven’s sake. We are to believe that a woman like this would want to bed the lover of her mother and grandmother?

I knew I was in for a long 90 minutes when the script had several people say near the beginning, “Nobody is from Los Angeles. But if they were they would be from Pasadena.” I guess Reiner and Griffin thought this was cute or funny or something. If you think it’s cute or funny or something, then you might roll in the aisles laughing at some of their other lines and situations.

Too bad, too, because Aniston gives a terrific performance. And, as I said, Ruffalo, who isn’t in it much, gives as good a supporting performance as you’ll see. It’s unfortunate they didn’t have more to work with.

This is not a terrible movie. I’ve certainly seen a lot worse this year. It just could have been so much better. If you go in expecting something, you’re sure to be disappointed. If you go in with no expectations, you could come out feeling like you got more than you thought you might.

December 21, 2005