Hippo Manchester
December 29, 2005

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FILM: Rumor Has It ... (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Costner and Shirley MacLaine and Mark Ruffalo all anticipated big holiday expenditures and therefore made a little money by submitting to Rumor Has It…, another atrocious Rob Reiner romantic comedy.

If we all agree to forever acknowledge that When Harry Met Sally… was a pretty good movie, Rob Reiner, will you please stop making romantic comedies? Each one of them is more icksome than the next.

In this particular one, Reiner decides not just to rework his own Meg-Ryan-weepies but weave in a few strands of a smarter movie, The Graduate.

Ya see, Sarah Huttinger (Aniston) is a young woman, recently engaged, who isn’t sure where her life is going. She brings her fiancé Jeff (Mark Ruffalo, who is adorable and needs to get himself a better accountant quick like a bunny) to her father’s (Richard Jenkins) home in Pasadena for her sister Annie’s (Mena Suvari) wedding. Sarah’s cold feet about her own upcoming wedding gets her asking her dead mother’s mother (Shirley MacLaine) about Sarah’s mother’s pre-wedding feelings. This leads her grandmother to slip and mention that her mother vanished a week before the wedding. And, when Jeff points out that Sarah was born a mere eight months after her parents were married, this gets her wondering: what if her dad isn’t her dad. And, seeing as Pasadena is the town from which the author of The Graduate hails, and since that book is rumored to be about town residents back in the early sixties, and since all those timelines fit, Sarah wonders: is her mother the “Elaine”? Is her grandmother “Mrs. Robinson”? Is her family’s past The Graduate?

Seeking answers, Sarah heads off to find Beau Burrows (Costner), the supposed Benjamin Braddock of the scenario. She confronts him, learns that she’s probably not his daughter and promptly sleeps with him.

Take a moment to soak in the ewwww.

What follows is a bunch of nonsense about finding oneself and happy marriages and forgiveness. Like so many a Reiner movie, Rumor Has It… throws around profundities — Beau offers a little speech about happiness and his life philosophy, MacLaine’s character ruminates on being old, Sarah advises her younger sister on anxiety — that sound as though they are trying to be deep while staying fortune-cookie shallow. Like the wacky misunderstanding of any sitcom, every problem in the movie seems predestined to neatly fix itself in the movie’s final act.

The only thing in Rumor Has It… that doesn’t feel like it was stolen from Must See TV is MacLaine’s Mrs. Richelieu. She doesn’t get nearly enough screen time and her boozy, sarcastic advice provides the movie’s only funny lines (though even there we too often just get cop-out venom, lines that sounded better when Lucille said them on Arrested Development, before the clever was taken out).

C-