Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rumor Has It… (2005) [PG-13] ***

New York attorney Jeff Daly (Mark Ruffalo) has finally become engaged to lovely but fickle Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston), who brings him west to introduce him to her Pasadena family, at the event of her younger sister’s wedding. But Jeff does the math and causes Sarah to doubt that her dad Earl (Richard Jenkins) could be her biological father. Once Sarah learns that her family was the inspiration for the 1967 book and film The Graduate, and that she just might be the offspring of that well-documented event, she begins to look for more clues. Suspecting that the book’s author, well-known technological visionary and womanizer Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) is her biological father, Sarah is consumed with curiosity and decides to introduce herself to him. Like her now-deceased mother Jocelyn Richelieu (Jennifer Taylor) and her very-much-alive grandmother Katharine Richelieu (Shirley MacLaine), Sarah finds herself in bed with Beau, a decision which might end her relationship with Jeff.

Those of you who grew up with The Graduate and were looking forward to seeing Rumor Has It… for the connection, are probably going to be disappointed. Unfortunately, although Rumor Has It… has an excellent screenplay, and great direction, editing, and soundtrack, Jennifer Aniston is a major disappointment. She has absolutely no romantic chemistry with either Ruffalo or Costner, and that chemistry is vital for the plot to be believable. As an example, when Aniston wakes up in the morning in Costner's bed, and remembers the previous night, she doesn’t smile and stretch voluptuously, reliving the passion. Nor does she blush with guilt at the realization that she has cheated on her fiance. No, she plays it as this isn't me; she disowns the physical experience; it's as though some other girl had been in the bed all night. Later that morning, as she and Costner are taking off in his jet to spend a day in the Napa Valley vineyards, she asks him: Does every girl in my family have to sleep with you?, referring to her mother and her grandmother. She’s neither flirtatious nor humorous; there’s no attempt to develop the relationship. She plays it as though it was some kind of a curse, something completely out of her control, about which she had no choice.

Lest you think I’m being too hard on Jennifer Aniston, here’s a challenge: see if you can think of a motion picture in which Jennifer Aniston had great romantic chemistry with her male lead, in which you can remember seeing her press her body against her lover coyly and flirtatiously, or, heaven forbid, wantonly and seductively. No, Jennifer Aniston is always stiff, tense, and guarded, occasionally with a furrowed brow and a facial expression just about to break into a scowl. Even the movie posters for her recent films almost always show her that way:  Along Came Polly, The Bounty Hunter, The Break-Up, Friends with Money, Horrible Bosses, Just Go with It, Management, The Switch, Wanderlust. In every one she’s either pensive or scowling. Only in Love Happens with Aaron Eckhart, and in the ensemble film He’s Just Not That Into You, do we see her smiling. I wonder if Jennifer Aniston even enjoys being an actress. My conclusion is that Jennifer Aniston is just a sexless All-American good girl, a newer version of Debbie Reynolds who was an earlier good girl who also lost her husband (Eddie Fisher) to a seductress (Elizabeth Taylor), the same way that Aniston lost Brad Pitt to Angelina Jolie. Jennifer Aniston may have been great in Friends, one of television's least-sexual ensemble comedy series. However, in a romantic comedy-drama like Rumor Has It… she is totally miscast. 

Labels: comedy, drama, romance
Internet Movie Database   
Metacritic 35/100   
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=44, viewers=60)   

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