Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley Maclaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Mena Suvari, Christopher McDonald, Kathy Bates, Mike Vogel
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Plot: In one of the weirdest plots ever put to film, Aniston plays Sarah, a young woman engaged to Jeff (Ruffalo), who is experiencing a lot of second thoughts. She learns that her mother, who has since passed, ran away to Mexico with an old boyfriend a week before the wedding, and becomes convinced that this other man could be her father. That would be a normal plot, until the film throws a huge curveball and reveals this family as the basis for the graduate. That means that Beau (Costner) slept with her grandmother (Maclaine) and her mother. And her?
What Works: All the gross stuff aside, I actually thought Costner and Aniston had really good chemistry. Which is icky, but in a different romantic comedy, they’d be good together. She actually works better with Costner than Ruffalo, which leaves you oddly rooting for her to choose the guy who has already slept with her mom and grandmother. I attribute this to Costner’s endless charm, and Aniston being perfect in romcoms. It’s almost too easy to get swept up in Beau. He’s an incredibly nice, smart, charming guy who has a beautiful home, a private plane, and a ton of money. He seems pretty “baggage free” and for any other girl would be an obvious choice. But considering Sarah meets Beau because she thinks he might be her biological father, your rooting for them makes you feel like you’re committing some kind of crime.
What Doesn’t Work: It’s just such a gross plot. I think that’s the main reason many people hate on this film. It’s actually a well shot, otherwise well written film. Rob Reiner knows what he’s doing. It’s just that he creates this love triangle between three people, one of whom has slept with three generations of women in the same family. It would be a lot to take if he had just slept with her mother, because that’s the plot of Autumn In New York (from what I remember). But the grandmother also? Come on now. The sensible side of me is still wrestling with whether or not she should have chosen Beau, because he was a far more interesting person than Jeff. Jeff was boring. It’s like he was downplayed in order to give Beau a fighting chance with the audience, which works. I actually wanted Sarah to choose Beau, and I hate myself for that.
Final Word: An incredibly odd romantic comedy. It would have worked better as an SNL sketch, but instead we got a very serious romantic comedy take. I’m not sure how I really feel about it now. I actually watched this a few days ago, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure I’ll ever know, or if I’ll ever morally recover from rooting for Beau to get the girl. I want to give it an F, and tell you to stay far away, but I can’t do that. I somewhat enjoyed this, and I thought the cast did a good job, and the film was competently shot and edited. It’s not an “F” film.
FINAL GRADE: C+