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MOVIE REVIEW: Unlikeable characters doom 'Something Borrowed'

Photo: Warner Bros.. John Krasinski stars as Ethan, Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Rachel, Kate Hudson stars as Darcy and Colin Egglesfield stars as Dex in "Something Borrowed."

Photo: Warner Bros.. John Krasinski stars as Ethan, Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Rachel, Kate Hudson stars as Darcy and Colin Egglesfield stars as Dex in "Something Borrowed."

Something Borrowed (PG-13)

1 1/2 stars out of 4

Although based on Emily Griffin's best-selling novel of the same name, "Something Borrowed" is actually an insufferable, alternate universe version of "My Best Friend's Wedding." Largely joyless and stuffed with mostly unlikable characters, the movie has a slick, glossy outer veneer that can't begin to mask its unsavory and morally bankrupt plot.

Three of the six principal characters have no business in what's supposed to be a breezy, fluffy chick flick but would work well if "Something Borrowed" was a thriller or a black comedy. Two more aren't so much dislikable as they are tentative, spineless doormats and lack the passion and drive required for leads in a romantic comedy. The remaining character -- one who delivers a sort of running "Greek Chorus" commentary -- is the sole facet of the film that provides anything resembling humor, romance or intelligence.

Despite perpetual attitudinal spin to the contrary, this is a movie about adultery and cheating, plain and simple. While the minor of the two lascivious trysts isn't revealed until near the end, the main scandalous pairing takes seed before the opening credits have even finished and peaks soon afterward. The movie steals its own thunder less than 10 minutes after it starts and has nowhere to go but down -- in flames.

Ginnifer Goodwin -- as close to the ideal, fresh-faced All-American Girl Hollywood could ever muster -- stars as Rachel, a single, 30-year-old Manhattan attorney and lifelong friend of Darcy (Kate Hudson), the most self-absorbed, gratingly obnoxious woman on the planet. How these two ever became friends is unfathomable. Apart from being from Indiana and loving the same man, they have nothing in common.

The man in question is Dex, played with a limp, Tom Cruise sort of feckless charm and vacant model handsomeness by Colin Egglesfield. After a strained meet-cute flashback scene taking place six years earlier, Rachel and Dex spend the next four in close, study hall company and neither has any idea the other wants them in the worst way.

In another flashback we see the night Rachel made the huge mistake of introducing her guy pal to the steamrolling Darcy, who wastes no time metaphorically digging in her vulture claws. Like Rachel, Dex has zero in common with Darcy, but rather than just humoring and then jettisoning her once they become engaged.

Spanning the length of an entire summer, the remainder of the film finds Dex and Rachel tip-toeing around an issue that if revealed would be certain to result in substantial pain but would also end their mounting milquetoast conspiracy and collective cowardice. Dex and Rachel are scared of their own shadows and both kowtow to a woman they deep down can't stand. Even in the world of movies it makes no sense. You want to slap both of them silly.

Regularly providing clarity and advice to Rachel (and every funny moment in the film) is Ethan (John Krasinski), a novelist who isn't afraid to speak his mind at any time. He detests Darcy (and she him) but does his level best to keep Rachel's confidence even though he knows it's the wrong thing to do.

Throughout the film Ethan must stave off the advances of Claire (Ashley Williams), a creepy stalker-type friend of Darcy with whom he once shared an ill-advised one-night stand. When not dodging Claire while pretending to be gay, Ethan has merciless fun dressing down Marcus (Steve Howey), an overbearing lounge lizard who will bed any woman he can.

The most surprising/disappointing thing about "Something Borrowed" is that it was adapted for the screen by a woman (Jennie Snyder) based on a book by another. Neither of them has a clue what they're talking about and makes those of their own gender come off looking like nobody you'd ever want to know, much less pay to see in a movie. (Warner Brothers)