You’d be right. You’d also expect it to be something of a chick flick. Right again.
You’d further expect the romantic comedy to be plot-predictable, in that the primary
relationship is going to hit plenty of bumps and snags before the right couple gets
together at last. And you’d still be right. So where’s the suspense? Well, let’s just
say we traded it in to focus on the character development.
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a single lawyer in New York who just turned 30. Her
best friend since childhood is Darcy (Kate Hudson), the kind of person who sweeps
into a room and demands everyone’s attention. She’s bubbly and effervescent and
charming and cute and adds spark and liveliness to any gathering. And she’s not as
shallow as her “party persona” would suggest. But she is so stunningly self-centered
that she doesn’t even notice when her best friend is falling for her fiancée, Dex (Colin
Rachel and Dex forgot to tell each other when they were study partners in law school
that they had a “crush” on each other (there’s something vaguely junior high-ish about
this premise, but we’ll go with it for the sake of the story). Now the big wedding
between Dex and Darcy is imminent, and, as Fate, or Circumstance, would have it,
Rachel and Dex find an opportunity to demonstrate their affection for each other.
OK, great, now what? Break the engagement? They’d both feel guilty. Go on with
the wedding plans as if nothing had happened? They’d both spend the rest of their
lives wondering “what if.” Try to find some time by themselves to discover if there
really is something irresistible there? Ah, but how to discern the excitement of the
clandestine rendezvous from the early indications of a good relational fit? And if
they’re so willing to “cheat” now, what would guarantee that they wouldn’t do the
same to each other later?
And, to make matters worse, Dex has a very perceptive father, whom he loves and
respects, who tells him that this “little experiment” of his has to stop, and that that’s
not the kind of men they are in this family. Well, it’s laudable to see a father actually
hold his grown son accountable to his commitments. But would a good Dad also
understand when his oblivious offspring is about to wander into a big mistake? And
would he love him enough to warn him about embarking on a marriage out of duty
rather than love?
Yes, indeed, we do weave tangled webs. This film is all about the ambivalence in all
the characters. (We find out later that Darcy has had her doubts all along about the
engagement, as well, and has managed to act out some of those insecurities.) In fact,
everyone is so uncertain how they really feel that they keep telling each other to make
a firm decision, presumably so the rest of them could figure out what they need to do.
Meanwhile, there’s the loyal buddy of Rachel, Ethan (John Krasinski), the obligatory
emasculated male friend who’s constantly wishing their relationship could go to the
next level, but it ain’t gonna happen. So, since we can’t root for the sensible one,
we’ll have to try to turn our affection toward either the flighty one, the indecisive one,
or the ones afraid to tell others about their true feelings. Hmm, does anybody else
miss a good car chase scene?
Ronald P. Salfen is co-pastor of United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas.