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Rumor Has It...(2005)
Jennifer Aniston portrays Sarah Huttinger, whose return home with her fiance convinces her that the sedate, proper, country-club lifestyle of her family isn't for her, and that maybe the Huttinger family isn't even hers. Join Sarah as she uncovers secrets that suggest the Huttingers are neither sedate nor proper - and as Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine and Mark Ruffalo join the fun. The story is rumor. The laughs are real!
For more about Rumor Has It... and the Rumor Has It... Blu-ray release, see Rumor Has It... Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 23, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Mena Suvari
Director: Rob Reiner
» See full cast & crew
Rumor Has It... Blu-ray Review
What would you do if you found out your Grandmother was the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 23, 2010
Who woulda thunk "Meathead" would become such a directing and producing force? When All in the Family premiered on CBS in January, 1971, Rob Reiner was chiefly known, if he indeed was known at all, for being the son of comedy legend Carl Reiner. The elder Reiner had cut his comedic teeth with Sid Caesar, becoming one of the most beloved second bananas in the history of early television, and then had of course gone on to create and executive produce the iconic sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, also playing Dick's blustery boss Alan Brady in the process. Interestingly, Carl's directing career largely fizzled in his early attempts like Enter Laughing and Where's Poppa?. Only the presence of other comedy icons like George Burns in Oh, God and Steve Martin in The Jerk, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and especially All of Me (arguably Carl's best film as a director) salvaged his directorial reputation, even as his son was starting to make his presence felt post Archie Bunker.
On the other hand, Reiner fils proved himself a remarkably versatile director, first attracting national attention with his hilarious mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, probably still the finest example of a faux rock "exposé" ever filmed. But Rob cut a rather wide swath through a large variety of genres, churning out a series of mostly critically well received films that also managed to become popular hits, including blockbusters like Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men. Starting in the mid-1990's, however, Reiner's magic touch started to falter a little bit (more than a little bit, according to some), and several of his efforts since then have been seen as pale imitations of previous successes, both in terms of subject matter (the Spinal Tap sequel, a straight to video knockoff) and especially tone. That same criticism applies to Rumor Has It, a film that seemed to have a lot going for it in pre-production, but which ended up ambling amiably enough along without ever delivering the punch it should have.
Rumor Has It plays on the pedigree of one of the most beloved films of all time, 1967's The Graduate. Rumor toys with the idea that the family of young newspaper writer Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston) were the models for Charles Webb's original novel upon which Mike Nichols' iconic film was based. And so Sarah becomes convinced that her brash grandmother, Katherine (Shirley MacLaine) is, you guessed it, really "Mrs. Robinson." Sarah also has suspicions that she's not really the biological daughter of her semi-bland father, Earl (Richard Jenkins), and may instead be the result of a dalliance between her mother and Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner), man who's now a Silicon Valley magnate. Sarah's investigations bring her within grasp of Beau himself, and she soon finds herself romantically entangled with the man who long ago bedded her mother.
It's not quite as smarmy as it sounds on first pass, as Beau reveals early on that he couldn't possibly be Sarah's father due to a long ago "testicular trauma." And so we have a really interesting set up, seemingly perfect for a modern Feydeau-esque door slamming farce, playing out against everyone's memories of one of the two or three best remembered comedies of the 1960's. Unfortunately, those very memories of a much hipper, funnier film (snippets of which appear in Rumor Has It, lending it at least a few seconds of zip and zing) only serve to point out how lifeless this particular film is.
Reiner was actually brought onto Rumor Has It after original director Ted Griffin, who wrote the screenplay, was fired by Executive Producer Steven Soderbergh after Griffin had fired the film's original cinematographer (and you thought your workplace was dysfunctional). Reiner evidently replaced several key actors, and that may indeed have upped what putative entertainment value Rumor Has It manages to eke out of its premise. Aniston, who seems consigned to a career playing the plucky "good girl" (despite her attempts to defy the typecasting in such films as the somewhat ironically named The Good Girl), and she's in full perky mode here.
The acting gravitas, such as it is, is left in the capable hands of both Costner and MacLaine. Costner is surprisingly somnambulant here, but it plays well to the quasi-surfer dude ethos of a character who has gone on to perhaps unexpected riches. MacLaine manages to invest Katherine with a little heart and soul beyond the vodka soaked supposed "zingers" she's given. But nothing ever manages to add up to very much, with the bulk of the film frankly playing like a not-very-special extended episode of Friends.
The major problem here is that both Reiner and his cast seem to be coasting, hoping that the Graduate tie-in will be enough to evoke a laugh or two and provide a pleasant, if unchallenging, entertainment. And the fact is, they're probably right. But with a film which at least attempts to hearken back to such an iconic piece of cinematic history, the bar is automatically set higher than it otherwise would have been. Griffin's screenplay is a paint by numbers affair that plops these improbable characters down, gives them semi-scintillating banter to spout, and then hopes and/or prays that the pieces congeal into a charming soufflé. Instead what we're left with is the frankly stale aftertaste of film clips of The Graduate interpolated into a cliché ridden outing where everything happens pretty much as you expect it to. What made The Graduate such a bracing entertainment, both in its day and the intervening decades, is you not only had no idea of what Benjamin's ultimate choices were going to be, the ending itself was so intentionally ambiguous that you couldn't help but wonder what Katharine Ross' Elaine was going to do once she found out about her boyfriend's dalliance with her mother. Rumor Has It has no such ambiguity, and it's a shallower film for it.
Rumor Has It... Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rumor Has It was an early Warner catalog title released in the then-new Blu-ray format, and as such it is encoded via relatively ancient MPEG-2 compression. The film looks good, not great, in high definition, with noticeable softness and a certain blandness of texture that can probably be mostly attributed to its Blu-ray "generation," so to speak. While the picture is a slight uptick from an upconverted SD-DVD, there's nothing here that screams high definition, in either the source material or its presentation on Blu-ray. Colors are adequate but rarely if ever mind blowingly saturated. Detail is again decent, but never rises to the pore exposing depths of latter day Blu-rays. While this isn't a disaster by any means, viewers will need to set their expectations a little lower than we've become accustomed to in the intervening years since Rumor Has It's initial Blu-ray release, especially for Warner catalog titles, which are routinely some of the best out of the gate. This is a decently sharp release, nothing more, nothing less.
Rumor Has It... Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Again, due to its early days release before the standard operating procedure of lossless audio tracks, Rumor Has It sports a good enough standard Dolby Digital 5.1 release that really only springs fully to life when the copious source music (everything from big bands to indie pop stuff) fills the soundtrack. Otherwise, surround activity is pretty shallow, though occasional ambient noises creep into the rear channels. Directionality is occasionally smart, as in a couple of party scenes, where voices fly in from the left and right channels. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and Aniston's frequent narration fills the front center channel very cleanly. There are no problems of any kind to report in terms of hiss or dropout. Much like the image quality, this is a decent enough attempt, certainly adequate to this film's rather modest ambitions, but just as certainly nowhere near what we've come to expect from the Blu-ray format since Rumor Has It first hit retail shelves a few years ago.
Rumor Has It... Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Only the theatrical trailer is offered.
Rumor Has It... Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rumor Has It sports an intriguingly cute premise, and its stars are game enough, but its sunk by a sitcom-esque screenplay that never gets the audience fully invested in Sarah's comedic trials and tribulations. The film is a pleasant time killer, good for a laugh or two, but it never rises to the heights of Reiner's best heartfelt comedies.
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