Friday, January 06, 2006

You Gotta Have a Gimmick

A clever gimmick helps Rumor Has It stand out among recent romantic comedy releases. Piggy-backing on The Graduate, the story follows a soul-searching granddaughter of the real Mrs. Robinson as she tries to find out if the man played by Dustin Hoffman in the popular 1967 film is her biological father. Outstanding performances by Jennifer Aniston, Shirley MacLaine, Kevin Costner and Mark Ruffalo add to the enjoyment of this new Rob Reiner movie.

When grandma Katherine (MacLaine) tells Sarah (Aniston) that her late mother ran away with a man named Beau Burroughs shortly before her wedding, Sarah thinks she might have been conceived during the time her mom stayed with Beau. She believes that could explain why she is so unlike her father and sister. But when Sarah finds Beau (Costner), he insists he could not be her father and even offers a plausible explanation why not. Despite their age difference, and the fact that Sarah already has a wonderful fiancée (Ruffalo), the two feel attracted to each other. Nature takes its course, and Sarah becomes the third woman in her family (granddaughter, mother, daughter) to sleep with same man.

Would Rumor Has It work without the fine actors cast in its key roles? Probably not. Aniston throws her heart and soul into her performance, and MacLaine brings Mrs. Robinson (originally played by the great Anne Bancroft) to life again, albeit as a salty, sexy senior citizen. Costner is Mr. Charm personified, and Ruffalo comes across so appealing that we want everything to come out right for him.

Filmmaker Reiner knows how to move things along with a light touch and he does so here. Rumor Has It may not be in the same class as his classic When Harry Met Sally nor, of course, The Graduate, but it emerges as a fun film for incurable romantics like me.


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