Here's the central conundrum in the new romantic comedy "Something Borrowed": Does the pop-off-the-page pretty of Kate Hudson's Darcy give her automatic rights to hunky Dex (Colin Egglesfield)? Or does the less shiny but still pretty penny that is Ginnifer Goodwin's good girl Rachel deserve a shot at the ring, even if that ring's already on her best friend's finger?
Before we get to the answer, let me bring up the central problem in "Something Borrowed" — a Grand Central Station of problems. Despite the pretty overload and the smoldering blue-eyed handsome of Egglesfield, the heart-pounding, palm-sweating, heavy-breathing chemical reactions that should be causing major blackouts in Manhattan, where this story unfolds, are nowhere to be found.
Unless you count John Krasinski's crackling-with-chemistry Ethan, which you should, although apparently no one but new wife Emily Blunt and me seems to understand his magical powers. Krasinski is, once again, the best thing about a romantic comedy (last time it was as the future son-in-law who spied the tryst he shouldn't have in "It's Complicated"). So put this in your suggestion box, Hollywood: Krasinski, in the tradition of funny nice guy Tom Hanks, is leading man material.
"Borrowed" is directed by Luke Greenfield, who continues his trend of making no sparks but pleasant enough romances. "Something Borrowed" has more polish and panache but less sweetness than his 2004 "The Girl Next Door," about a nerdy teen and his porn star neighbor (and I'm not being sarcastic, it was pleasant and sweet).
Screenwriter Jennie Snyder Urman has stayed true to the bestselling novel by Emily Giffin, which distinguished itself in the chick lit world with its nuance, as in it had some. In Giffin's book, you don't owe your best friends everything and the lines between love, loyalty and betrayal are not so clear-cut.
Because everything that happens in "Borrowed" has a past, the film does a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between then and now. That gets a little tiresome after a while, because the scenes may change but the theme doesn't — Darcy is always center stage, Rachel is smiling supportively nearby. The trigger point is the big 3-0, with Darcy giving Rachel a "surprise" bash. There's too much drink, a lost purse and a fateful taxi ride featuring Darcy's significant others — Dex and Rachel, fiancé and friend — sparking a "driver make that one stop not two" fling.
But as the song promised — there's got to be a morning after. So here are the headaches we're left with: Will great sex, I mean true love, lead Dex to cancel the wedding? Is Rachel really wrong since she really, really loves Dex? Does Darcy deserve Dex anyway? These and other questions swirl through a summer of love that bounces between work in NYC and a share in the Hamptons, which makes for a lot of, ahem, transit time.
After years spent in the good girl trenches, it's nice to see Hudson put a little more bad into the act. The vacuous vixen role suits her nicely. Goodwin, who created such depth in the wide-eyed innocence and steely ambition of Margene in HBO's late-great Mormon polygamy series, "Big Love," is sweet, plain and simple but not much else. Egglesfield, who should be the hot potato between these two, is more like a plate of cold fries. Though in fairness it's hard when his primary role is wimp and jerk.