Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rumor Has It

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Rob Reiner’s best decision in this movie was omitting any graphic Jennifer Aniston-Kevin Costner sex scene, instead leaving it to the audience’s imagination. It’s not the May-December romance that makes one cringe as much as the circumstances surrounding their intimacy: Aniston’s character Sarah is frantically hunting down Costner’s Beau to question him about the affairs he had with her mother and grandmother decades ago. She suspects that not only were their indiscretions the inspiration for The Graduate, but that the billionaire could really be her dad. Then, right after determining that he’s not her long lost pop, the two climb aboard the Demi-Ashton love train.

How one could make such enormous emotional leaps in one evening is baffling, and frankly would make a fine topic for a Maury Povich episode: “The Paternity Test Was Negative, So Now I Can Show You Who’s Your Daddy.”

Thankfully, the details of the entanglement are the one thing Reiner spares the audience from enduring in this miscued attempt at romantic comedy.

As much as Reiner (When Harry Met Sally) and writer Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven) try to imbue their story with the trappings of The Graduate, references to the 1967 classic are wasted in this trifle of a film.

There are a few moments that call to mind the wry observations about upper-class suburban life offered in The Graduate. An early scene at a Pasadena house party suggests the rebels of the ’60s have turned into their parents, spewing the same gossipy, hollow, self-important conversation.

But that’s about as clever as it gets. Reiner could have delivered a provocative revisiting of a comedy about taboos, generation gaps and self-discovery, but the movie lacks clever dialogue, dramatic tension and dark comedic turns. Rumor Has It takes what could have been a grown-up picture about relationships and turns it into a goofball comedy that belongs in a low-rent sitcom.

What’s more, the cast, aside from Shirley MacLaine as the wickedly droll inspiration for Mrs. Robinson, offers performances that fail to inspire. The sizzling seductiveness of Anne Bancroft and the fumbling charm of Dustin Hoffman are replaced with Costner’s blandness and the cutesy mania of Aniston, something she bottled and branded for a decade on TV’s Friends. Their characters’ romance blooms without so much as a spark, and the whole charade brings to mind just one word: “Plastic.”

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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