Rumour Has It...
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Rob Reiner
scr TM Griffin
with Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Mena Suvari, Steve Sandvoss, Kathy Bates, Chris McDonald, Jenny Wade, Mike Vogel, Colleen Camp
release US 25.Dec.05,
UK 27.Jan.06
05/US Warners 1h36

What's that you say, Mrs Robinson? Aniston and Costner (above); MacLaine and Ruffalo

jenkins suvari bates

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Rumour Has It... This endearing romantic comedy has enough witty banter and honest emotion to keep us thoroughly entertained. Even if it never quite jumps out of the tried-and-true mould, the sharp cast and clever script spice things up.

Sarah (Aniston) is travelling home to Pasadena, the old-money L.A. suburb, with her fiance Jeff (Ruffalo) for the marriage of her bubbly sister (Suvari). But on the eve of the wedding she discovers a secret: that The Graduate was a fictionalised version of her family, and her sparky grandmother (MacLaine) actually seduced her late mother's university boyfriend Beau. Already doubting whether she should marry Jeff, this news shakes her badly. So she heads off to find Beau (Costner), and the truth. Not, perhaps, her best idea.

As he did in When Harry Met Sally, Reiner directs the film with an effortless charm, deftly balancing the comedy and drama--both witty and slushy bits feel surprisingly realistic, never forced, which makes it one of the more winning rom-coms in recent memory. Alongside this, Griffin's smart screenplay plays amusingly with film references, character inter-relationships and zingy dialog.

Thus hooked, the terrific cast reels us in. Aniston could do this kind of thing in her sleep, but she really delivers a proper comedic performance that sustains the story's heavier moments. Ruffalo adds depth in another of his deceptively relaxed turns as the steadfast boyfriend. Costner is warm charisma personified, and Jenkins has a few surprises up his sleeve. But of course it's MacLaine who walks off with the film; she has the best role as the twisted matriarch and makes the most of every line, movement, glance, outfit, prop.

This is a consistently funny and engaging film, even if it's a bit bland. The twisty complexity of the Graduate link is actually superficial, as is the way the standard rom-com structure is reversed (Aniston has the typical male role, although if played by a man the character would be deeply unsympathetic). Even the potentially yucky plot points are vanquished with a smirk and a throwaway joke. But as a bit of fluffy, smile-generating cinema, it's just about perfect.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 21.Nov.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall