Rumor Has It… (2005)

Film review: Rumor Has It… (2005), directed by Rob Reiner

rumorhasitIn the early 1960s, a book called The Graduate was published. Rumour around Pasadena said it was based on a true story, about a scandal in a local family, but no one knew which one. Then there was the film, and so the story has been forever immortalised.

In the mid-Noughties, Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston) and her fiancé Jeff (Mark Ruffalo) are on a plane back home to Pasadena. Her sister Annie (Mena Suvari) is getting married. Under the pretense that she doesn’t want to steal her sister’s thunder, Sarah won’t wear the engagement ring, or even announce the engagement to the family in private. Truth be told, she’s just not sure Jeff is the one.

When she gets to her family, because of an off-handed comment by Jeff, Sarah starts to question her parentage. Didn’t her mother run away to Mexico with some guy the week before she got married to her father (Richard Jenkins)? As it turns out, her eccentric grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) is actually the person inspiring the “Mrs. Robinson” of The Graduate. Does that mean Sarah’s real father isn’t the man she’s always known as her dad?

She has to find out the truth, and tracks the guy down. Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) is a well-off businessman these days, with a private jet and everything, and what follows is a story that raises a question which is fairly unique when it comes to RomComs: “OMG, is she going to shag her DAD?! o.O”

That’s actually what makes the film memorable, to be honest. I would never have expected a RomCom to raise feelings of squick. The idea of potentially shagging your dad, even if he is a darn handsome Kevin Costner … eww? Well, I won’t go into details, but of course it turns out not to be squicky. In fact, rather romantic.

And then it has to go and be ruined by a more realistic and sort of moralising ending. Blegh. They’re doing escapism wrong! Even if Mark Ruffalo is even more handsome than Kevin Costner!

If you’re familiar with The Graduate, perhaps you would appreciate this film on more levels. My knowledge of it is basically a young Dustin Hoffman saying “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?” to Anne Bancroft. (Even though I think I might have it on DVD. Needs investigating.) So for me, I can just giggle at the general idea of The Graduate having been based on the Huttingers. The Pasadena jokes probably works best if you’re familiar with the area. (I just know of Slappy Squirrel, heh.)

So yeah, it’s romantic, it’s nice – if squicky at times – and it has some funny moments but it’s not quite escapist enough, even though I suppose the escapist route would have been the obvious ending, and they didn’t want to go with that. Bonus points for Kathy Bates, though. I love her and got all excited when I saw her appear on screen, even in those hideous clothes. Brilliant actress, and very funny she is too.

3 out of 5 private jets.

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