Rumor Has It ...
Rated PG-13, 96 min. Directed by Rob Reiner. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Mena Suvari.
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Dec. 30, 2005
Fans of The Graduate should skip this strange comedy, which posits that the real-life inspiration for counterculture icon Benjamin Braddock grew up to be a cheesy, brainless high-tech zillionaire doing yoga and driving a Mercedes around Half Moon Bay. Baby-boomer Reiner has no qualms about selling out his generational cohort, and Rumor Has It … is likewise aggressive with the Hollywood heartstrings – an unusual approach, since the script is pretty much off-the-wall. Saturnine Sarah (Aniston) goes home to satirized sunny Pasadena for the wedding of her Barbie-doll sister (Suvari, all bleached teeth and tennis whites) with her dependable, great-guy boyfriend (Ruffalo, a remarkable actor seemingly intent on transforming himself into Benjamin Bratt). There she discovers the family secret: Her grandmother (MacLaine) and mother inspired The Graduate’s Mrs. Robinson and Elaine, and their shared lover (Costner) might be her biological father. That’s right: Ben Braddock grew up to be Kevin Costner. Heresy! Yet Costner does his best Hoffman-esque mumbling and shrugging – visible signs of acting from an overripe Ken doll who’s almost a self-parody onscreen. This may be a spoiler, but I am obligated to inform you that once Aniston’s character rules out Costner’s paternity, they have sex. I say this because people should be warned about such things, perhaps even with a special rating. It’s a bizarre and uncomfortable scenario, but Reiner plays it like straight fluffy farce, which is probably a mistake. In the hands of a more innovative director, we’d be invited to explore our revulsion. Instead, it’s passed off as a funny love triangle; we’re actually supposed to be rooting for Aniston to pick the right guy. (And don’t we just love rooting for Jennifer Aniston, America? She’s fine in the film, very down-to-earth, like an actual woman but with better hair, a personal trainer, and upmarket styling.) MacLaine is absolutely loads of fun as the now sixtysomething seductress, but sadly she doesn’t get to take a crack at Costner’s twentysomething son (Mike Vogel), which shows you how the movie is just a tease. There’s nothing shocking about a flat-ironed fashion plate fucking a dried-up, decades-older zillionaire; it’s banal, but Reiner acts like he’s giving us a glimpse of stocking. Yawn, which leaves only the jejune machinations of the romantic comedy for amusement. Costner whirls Aniston around in his private jet, takes her to breakfast in the wine country, and whisks her off to a ball – for which she produces a formal gown out of nowhere – and it’s so goofy and illogical that it should be satire but is played as the most middle-of-the-road Cinderella wish fulfillment. Meanwhile, poor Ruffalo stands around with his thumb up his ass being the perfectly patient chick-flick boyfriend; you can almost see Gepetto working his strings. To be fair, whoever said there were 15 stories in Hollywood has now found a 16th in this mishmash.