Surely you are all familiar with the “name the actor” game. It is that game people play under their breath in the theater during a movie when an actor they know shows up on screen and they feel it necessary to blurt out that name in either a loud whisper or soft speaking voice. It is usually done with the enthusiasm of a child who will get the doughnut with the most sprinkles if he/she can name them the quickest and the fastest.
Rumor Has It… may set the record for most participants in the game. You’ll likely hear “There’s Jennifer Aniston! There’s Kevin Costner! There’s Shirley MacLaine! There’s Mark Ruffalo! There’s Shooter McGavin!” The project sports an impressive list of accomplished actors, all of whom act as if they have been completely bamboozled by a slimy studio exec who has led them to believe they are in a good film. Nothing could have saved this flaming turd of a contrivance.
Jennifer Aniston portrays Sarah Huttinger, a confused woman who has nothing in common with her family. That’s bad news, since Sarah and her fiancé, Jeff (Ruffalo), are headed back to her hometown of Pasadena, California for Sarah’s sister’s (Suvari) wedding. Rumor has it that the story of the hit film The Graduate was in fact based upon true events from a family in Pasadena. It doesn’t take long for Sarah to put it together that her grandmother, Katharine (MacLaine), may be the real Mrs. Robinson, her deceased mother may be the Elaine Robinson character, and Beau Burroughs (Costner) could be the real Benjamin Braddock. So could Sarah be the offspring of the Beau’s fling with her mother, which happened only one week before she married Sarah’s father (Jenkins)? Or was that just a goof and she is part of the family she thinks she is?
Ted Griffin’s screenplay is all over the place and manages to be unfunny and unemotional, often in the same scenes. Griffin was originally slated to direct the film but pulled out for “undisclosed reasons.” Perhaps he realized that doing a once-over on an already fantastic film isn’t such a good idea. Brought in to direct is Rob Reiner, who hasn’t made a great film since 1992’s A Few Good Men and has been responsible for such catastrophes as North, The Story Of Us, and Alex & Emma. The man made When Harry Met Sally and has been the old rom-com standby ever since. I’m lost. Things don’t get much better here as Reiner struggles to pull any kind of comedy out of the script, even when it contains compelling hot topics such as incest.
The only actor involved that makes any kind of impression is Shirley MacLaine, who wisely hams it up and seems to be the only one in on the joke. Jennifer Aniston cries and slaps herself on the head a lot, almost as if she is waiting for the Friends laugh track. Between this and Derailed I think she is secretly settling a vendetta with People Magazine at our expense. It’s another day at the office for Costner, who simply just has to act rich and suave – unheard of for him I’m sure. Mark Ruffalo gets the raw end of the deal as he is all but forgotten about for the second half of the film until the big, ultra-unrealistic sappy ending. The real-life moral of the story: Cheat on your fiancé/spouse all you want, but just be good at apologizing about it.
Rumor Has It… should play well to females enduring a mid-life crisis, but unlike the best of romantic comedies, the film has nothing to offer the males who are being dragged along for the ride. Contrived to the max and surprisingly unfunny, Rumor Has It… is this year’s theatrical Christmas turkey.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Length: 96 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content, crude humor and a drug reference.
Theatrical Release: December 25, 2005
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: Ted Griffin
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Christopher McDonald