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Rumor Has It...

Here's a rumor for ya: this is pretty bland stuff, despite all the clever people involved and good intentions to pull off a hip dramedy. Ultimately, Rumor Has It doesn't know what it wants to be.


On the one hand, it's a comedy. We meet Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston), a thirtysomething knee deep in a pre-midlife crisis with a way too patient fiancé (Mark Ruffalo) and a nowhere job. Her anxiety is only exacerbated when she visits her picture perfect family in Pasadena, CA, a place she's never felt like she belonged, especially after her mother died. But then it gets weirder when Sarah finds out her family was the inspiration for The Graduate. It seems Sarah's grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) was the Mrs. Robinson and that her mother ran off with the same guy briefly, right before she got married to Sarah's dad. Sarah becomes obsessed with finding this "other" guy, Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner), believing he might be the key. He's a key all right--to a night of drunken lust. But none of this is going to solve Sarah's problems, now is it? She's got to find her own answers in her heart. Excuse me while I go throw up.


Maybe Jennifer Aniston should just write this year off. Not only did she lose a husband to another woman, she also hasn't made very smart choices in her career. Derailed completely missed the track and now this comedy is no better suited to her talents. Aniston is much better playing sweet and quirky rather than messy and neurotic, and honestly, shines brighter when co-starring with strong comedic talents, such as Ben Stiller (Along Came Polly) or Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty). (That's why we're holding our breath for her next film The Break Up with [real-life boyfriend?] Vince Vaughn.) Shirley MacLaine, making a habit out of being the best thing in an otherwise dull movie (In Her Shoes anyone?), is a hoot as grandma. Costner doesn't look anything like Dustin Hoffman, thank goodness, but has zero chemistry with Aniston. And who knows what the hell Ruffalo is doing wasting his talents doing this romantic comedy crap. Just say no, Mark.


As a director, Rob Reiner hasn't had much luck lately either. This is the first movie he's directed since 2003's Alex & Emma--and we all remember what a success that was. To be fair, Reiner apparently took over the reins from screenwriter Ted Griffin (Matchstick Men), who was making his feature film debut, ten days into production and changed things quite a bit. That's not surprising because Rumor, quite simply, lacks direction. It wants desperately to be a comedy with a hint of relationship drama but somehow misses the mark on both. Now, the idea of a Graduate update is somewhat intriguing. Reminds me of Robert Altman's The Player, in which The Graduate's original screenwriter Buck Henry pitches a sequel of sorts to a studio development exec. It's meant to be a joke, of course, but somewhere in the spoof, there might've been a sliver of mad brilliance. Too bad Rumor ruins it.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 1/2 stars.