Rumor Has It

Rumor Has It

*1/2

Reviewed by: Sarah Artt

Rumor Has It tells the story of Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston), a newly engaged aspiring journalist who goes home to Pasadena for her sister's wedding, only to become obsessed with the following: 1. Ascertaining whether or not her mother was happy during her lifetime 2. Discovering why she does not resemble her family members 3."Getting more out of life."

Bear in mind, this is supposed to be a comedy.

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Her quest drives her to seek out her mother's former lover Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) and confront him with his past indiscretions, as well as coming to terms with her own - I use this term in full knowledge that Helen Fielding's ears are burning - commitmentphobia.

The film has the misfortune to be based on a good movie, or at least the story behind a good movie, The Graduate (1967). Sarah's grandmother is the Mrs Robinson character, Beau Burroughs the Benjamin Braddock character and Sarah's mother is Elaine Robinson. After that it all goes a bit meta, and not in a good way.

As a side note, if you have not yet seen The Graduate, run - do not walk - to your nearest video store and rent it immediately, particularly if you are trying to seduce a younger lover. It's not life changing cinema, but Anne Bancroft's performance as Mrs Robinson is just so delicious, and the film itself so stylish and of its era that it remains a modern classic.

Rumor's best performance belongs to Shirley Maclaine, as Sarah's grandmother Katherine, who does a mean job as an ageing playgirl. She has somehow managed to unearth a role that is refreshingly rude and funny for a woman over 50 and Bancroft, who immortalised Mrs Robinson on screen and was at one point considered for Maclaine's role before her death from cancer last year, is undoubtedly smiling down at her from the leopard-print cocktail lounge in the sky.

Maclaine has all the good lines, such as "I should never drink these things without a mixer," as she reveals too much at the rehearsal dinner, and Aniston's poor comic timing pales in comparison to this legend. There is also a charming and hilarious cameo appearance from Kathy Bates, as Sarah's Aunt Mitzi, a classic ageing deminondaine in a silk Pucci kaftan, who drinks Bloody Marys and lavishes affection on her small yappy dog.

Aniston plays Sarah as a tiresome neurotic, who spends much of the picture grimacing and stroking her stomach, rather as if she is about to be ill. Perhaps this is because she realised she was now contractually obligated to finish the picture. Five minutes in, after worrying to her fiance (Mark Ruffalo) about the upcoming family visit, she inexplicably announces. "Hey, do you wanna go have sex in the bathroom?" Now, the logistics of having sex on a plane in the daytime have always mystified me. Also, isn't becoming a member of the Mile High Club supposed to be distinctly sleazier? Not only is this the cleanest airplane bathroom ever, but I've watched films where the male co-star is openly gay and there's more sexual chemistry between him and the leading lady. In Anniston's kissing scenes, her performance can only be described as "workmanlike." When she first kisses Beau, it is a quick peck on the lips, reminiscent of the more embarrassed efforts of your local high school play, hardly the prelude to a "rite of passage", as she later describes their night together.

In the scenes that follow, Beau displays his wealth and new age manhood to Sarah. He's shown in the middle of a yogic head stand the morning after and flies her to the wine country for lunch where, inexplicably, they do not drink, or even discuss wine or food, a key component in any chick flick I am prepared to like. For this is precisely what Rumor Has It is, a chick flick of the worst type.

There is even a scene of what can only be described as barking female hysteria when Sarah turns up on her grandmother's doorstep and confesses her affair with Beau. In the midst of this, Sarah's father calls to seek advice regarding his other daughter Annie (Mena Suvari), who has just had a panic attack on her way to Belize for her honeymoon. In amongst all this screeching that persumedly signifies genuine distress, it was a wonder I didn't commit myself to sterilisation then and there.

Needless to say, Sarah soon realises the error of her ways and attempts to patch things up with her fiance, while Annie adjusts herself to the idea that it is perfectly fine to marry someone because they're good at tennis and Beau faces up to his status as ageing playboy. So, all the various threads and neuroses become untangled in the end, but not without a comic version of the theme tune from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, as Katherine faces off with Beau.

Sadly, Rumor Has It lacks even an ounce of The Graduate's irreverence.

Reviewed on: 27 Jan 2006
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The Graduate - 20 years on? Or boring and uneventful rubbish.
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Scott Macdonald *1/2

Director: Rob Reiner

Writer: Ted Griffin

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Christopher McDonald, Steve Sandvoss, Mena Suvari, Mike Vogel, Robert Lanza, Trevor Stock

Year: 2005

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

The Graduate
Tadpole