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Rumor Has It... (2005)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Screwball Comedy
Director:
Rob Reiner Rob Reiner
Starring:
Jennifer Aniston Jennifer Aniston
Kevin Costner Kevin Costner
Shirley MacLaine Shirley MacLaine
Mark Ruffalo Mark Ruffalo
Richard Jenkins Richard Jenkins

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 29, 2005
This is the resume of one of the all-time great directors: "This Is Spinal Tap", "Stand By Me", "The Princess Bride", "When Harry Met Sally", "Misery", "A Few Good Men", "The American President", "Ghosts of Mississippi". From comedy to drama to horror to mockumentary, Rob Reiner has tackled just about every genre imaginable. Now, let's take a look at his last three films: "The Story of Us", "Alex & Emma", and now "Rumor Has It". What in the hell has happened to Rob Reiner? Where did he go? Whom is this impostor who keeps churning out schlock after schlock disguised as actual cinema? I am not saying "Rumor Has It" is a terrible film, but it is certainly below the caliber of a fine director like Reiner. Remember the courtroom sequence where Jack Nicholson screams, "You can't handle the truth!"; remember the scene at the diner where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in front of Billy Crystal and all the patrons; remember the scene where Cary Elwes and Andre the Giant do battle with the rocks - these were all Rob Reiner scenes. There is not a single scene in "Rumor Has It" that sticks with you after you've left the theatre. There is not a single moment in the film that makes you think it could possibly be a Rob Reiner film. It seemed like something from the guy who directed "The Wedding Date" or "Must Love Dogs". If this is all Rob Reiner has left to offer the public, he might as well retire and stop smudging his resume.

The premise of "Rumor Has It" is a delightful and intriguing one. Jennifer Aniston stars as Sarah Huttinger, a young woman who, along with her fiance Jeff (Mark Ruffalo) is flying home to Pasadena for her little sister (Mena Suvari) Annie's wedding. She dreads this because she has absolutely nothing in common with her family, and she doesn't want to reveal she is engaged to Jeff because she fears it will take the spotlight off her sister's big day. Once she arrives, however, through conversations with her grandmother, Katharine (Shirley MacLaine) and Aunt Mitzi (Kathy Bates), she learns that her family might have been the inspiration for the book, "The Graduate", and that her mother and grandmother were the mother and daughter pair who slept with a man actually known as Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner). Suspecting that Burroughs might be her actual father, Sarah flies to San Francisco to meet him and find out everything that happened between he and her family. That is when the plot takes off and this delightful, quirky little comedy becomes a drawn out romance with Jennifer Aniston weeping every five minutes or so and Kevin Costner trying to rationalize why he is being expected to carry this entire film on his shoulders. Of course, the fiancÚ runs in at the last moment and catches Sarah and Beau kissing. Of course, Grandma Katharine gets one final chance to tell Beau off once and for all. And, of course, the film ends on a happy note because a film like this has to end on a happy note or people leave the theatre feeling cheated.

I felt cheated. I felt like I invested ninety minutes of my life into something that, though entertaining, was nothing short of every other romantic comedy I have ever seen before. I guess Rob Reiner thought a phenomenal cast could make up for a sub-par script and piss poor direction and camerawork. I felt cheated because this film could have been so much better. Reiner should have played more on "The Graduate" connections - he should have roped in more comedy and not turned Jennifer Aniston into a weeping mess anytime someone so much as passed gas in her direction. I wanted to see more interaction between Grandma Katharine and Beau. I wanted to see Kathy Bates do something other that spat off dialogue sufficient enough for an extra. I wanted to see Mark Ruffalo naked, but that is beside the point. I just wanted something more. I felt like, every time Reiner had a chance to do something really clever and really hilarious, he just skipped it and said to himself, "Now would be a good time to let Jennifer cry or let Shirley improv for a little." It didn't work. It left me feeling as if no one knew what the hell they were doing. And, maybe it's not the script's fault. Ted Griffin is a fine writer - from "Ravenous" to "Matchstick Men", the guy knows how to write humor. Maybe Reiner has just lost his comic tough. Yes, I think that is it.

So, what about this all-star cast? Jennifer Aniston is a very likable actress. She always has been. She has this natural, 'big sister' quality about her that makes her hard to resist. Here, she has no room to maneuver. She just cries and gets hysterical and does everything the romantic heroine is suppose to do throughout the course of a romantic comedy. Kevin Costner carries the film, and does so with all of the charm and ease that we have come to expect from him lately. This is the Kevin Costner we have been missing for so long, the same one from "The Upside of Anger", with just a little less of that passive-aggressive tendency. Shirley MacLaine provides most of the biggest laughs as Grandma Katharine, and her character is very similar to that of Cloris Leachman in "Spanglish", the old lady brought in to make up for shotty direction and a lacking of material. For me, the highlight of the film was the still underrated Richard Jenkins as Earl, Sarah's father. Jenkins has this 'fatherly' charm about him anyway, and he hits all the right comedic notes as Earl, just like he hit all the right comedic notes in "Fun With Dick and Jane". The rest of the cast: Mena Suvari, Kathy Bates, Mark Ruffalo, and the underused Christopher McDonald, are given very little with which to work, though I must say Mark Ruffalo was looking unbelievably hot in this picture. I didn't know he had the ability to look this good. That is the one thing I remember from the film.

In the grand scheme of things, "Rumor Has It" is as disposable as your typical romantic comedy. Director Rob Reiner took an interesting premise and an unbelievable cast and wasted them on what can only be described as the biggest disappointment from a mainstream director that I have seen in a long time. I guess the one good thing to say is that even Rob Reiner at his worst still manages to provide some laughter and some winning sequences. I thought most of the scenes between Aniston and Costner were handled very well, though too romantic and not nearly humorous enough. I also enjoyed the scene at the end between Aniston and Mena Suvari - "You slept with Dad! Dad slept with Grandma Katharine!" But there just weren't enough of those scenes. "Rumor Has It" played like a sitcom more than a movie and, as a sitcom, it only had enough steam for maybe an episode and a half. I miss the old Rob Reiner. I miss the Rob Reiner that turned the word 'inconceivable' into a household name. I miss the Rob Reiner that made everyone cringe whenever they heard the line, "I'm your number one fan." Where did he go? Come back. Cinema needs you; unless crap like this is all you have left up your sleeve. Take that back - it was not crap...merely beneath you. I don't want anyone thinking I hated this film. I did not hate it. I hated I did not like it more.

5.5/10.
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