Judge Ryan Keefer thinks that employing the use of slide rules during a romantic comedy makes things neither romantic nor funny.
Our review of Rumor Has It..., published May 9th, 2006, is also available.
"I didn't come here to tell you that I can't live without you. I can live without you. I just don't want to."
On the eve of her latest big studio romantic comedy The Break-Up, Jennifer Aniston's last big studio romantic comedy Rumor Has It… arrives in one of three different DVD incarnations. Aside from the widescreen and full screen versions, there's an HD DVD version that includes a standard definition version of the film. So how does this measure up?
Facts of the Case
In this film, written by Ted Griffin (Ocean's Twelve) and directed by Rob Reiner (Sleepless in Seattle), Aniston plays Sarah Huttinger, a New York Times journalist responsible for writing the marriage announcements and obituaries. She has recently been engaged to Jeff (Mark Ruffalo, Just Like Heaven), an attorney. The pair fly out to Pasadena (which is the answer to the saying "No one comes from Los Angeles, but if they do, they come from Pasadena," or something like that), where Sarah's sister (played by Mena Suvari, American Beauty) is getting married. During the rehearsal, Sarah gets to talking with her grandmother Katherine (Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment, Being There), who indicates that there is a chance that Sarah's biological father, who she's never known, may be the inspiration for the '60s book (and later film adaptation) The Graduate.
The genesis for Griffin's script would seem to have an interesting hook attached to it; a young 21-year-old man is seduced and sleeps with a 42-year-old married woman. The man then later sleeps with the woman's daughter, just before the daughter is about to marry another man. The promising gigolo manages to tell his story to a friend of his, who turns it into a book which is later optioned to become the legendary film with Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. This tale was made into legend in Pasadena, which is just outside Los Angeles.
Now in practice, that sounds okay, but when you add into the mix that the film for some inexplicable reason is set in 1997, it's just confusing to a small brain like mine, much less those who are fans of Aniston and have pens with pink cottonballs on them or have Justin Timberlake posters on their walls. So Aniston gets a couple years trimmed off her age, and call me superficial, but Aniston playing any character under 35 just isn't working anymore. As Beau, Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves) is supposedly 55 in the film and is a business mogul, and his role seems to be as the somewhat weathered older man who's a little bit lonely and still clutches onto strands of youth. You've gotta love stereotyping, but quite frankly, his performance in The Upside of Anger was a little more convincing than this. As the 73-year-old matriarch, MacLaine seems to be a natural extension of Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson. She's bold, cuts to the chase, doesn't mince words and has become fiercely protective of the women in the family for good reason.
As director, Reiner doesn't seem to give any real motivation or provide any contribution to the film. When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle seemed to find Reiner in a stride, and he could direct a film with a good script while including some of the unique qualities and his sense of humor to elevate the story further. Here, he's working off a story that's set in California and is supposed to appeal to the rest of the country, and no level of humor has been able to accomplish that in recent cinematic memory.
This video release is notable in that it's the first release to include both the standard definition DVD version of this film as well as the high definition version. Both are included on a dual sided disc. Quite frankly, I thought that Warner abandoned flipper discs quite awhile ago, but oh well. I can certainly understand the rationale for including both versions in one nice and tidy case, and it gives the viewer a chance to explore the improved detail on this (like Aniston's hair for instance, there's a lot more going on there, and being folically challenged, I am, for lack of a better word, in awe of her hair). But when the feature includes just a theatrical trailer, what's the point of taking advantage of the technology? Throw a commentary in there, an EPK, something. You really can't expect that people will shell out this kind of money for that kind of film.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This movie has two Oscar winners in Costner and MacLaine, and yet it's Ruffalo that says the best lines in the film (though not by much). He continues to be a surprisingly good comic foil in a lot of films, but one or two more romantic comedies may put him in the Dermot Mulroney category, except Ruffalo is smarter.
This movie was just an exercise in redundant perceptions. MacLaine is still getting it done as the wild grandma, Ruffalo needs to be used more often in feature film roles that are substantive, Costner doesn't have that much left in the tank and Aniston (despite all efforts to the contrary) is getting her name added into the growing list of people that don't produce theatrically after a long TV run, no matter how many times we're told otherwise.
Ruffalo and MacLaine are exonerated as a result of their work here, the remaining cast and crew are guilty, and they should know the reason why.
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