What exactly has happened to Rob Reiner? Remember when he used to make funny films or has it been too long?
Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) and Jeff (Mark Ruffalo) travel back to her childhood home for the wedding of her sister (Mena Suvari). Sarah doesn't want to tell the family that she and Jeff have just become engaged; she doesn't want to steal the thunder from her sister. Jeff doesn't get it, but he agrees. During the evening, Grandma Katherine (Shirley MacLaine), reveals a secret about Sarah's mom, leading the young woman to believe her family was the basis for the film "The Graduate". "Aunt" Mitzi (Kathy Bates) reveals that Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) dated her mother right before she was married. Sarah begins to suspect that Burroughs may actually be her father and decides she needs to find him. She flies to San Francisco, where he is giving a lecture.
"Rumor Has It" has all of the hallmarks of a great, zany comedy yet the only element that consistently works is Shirley MacLaine. The few times she is on screen, the film becomes alive with promise. Katherine is a rich woman beyond caring what anyone thinks of her. As a result, she says whatever she wants, providing the film's four or five funny lines. Unfortunately, MacLaine isn't in the film enough to save it.
Jennifer Aniston is having a problematic transition to "Movie Star". Her last good film was "The Good Girl", an independent film she made while "Friends" was still earning her $20 million a year. Perhaps she felt the security of the show allowed her to take some risks, some chances, and it paid off. "The Good Girl" was critically acclaimed and earned Aniston a lot of good reviews. Since then, she has only appeared in big budget "romantic comedies" and the unfortunate "Derailed". In "Rumor", Aniston presents yet another variation on Rachel, her character from "Friends". Imagine her TV persona, only whinier, ditsier, and more annoying and you begin to get a picture of her performance in the film.
Kevin Costner's performance is interesting only because he seems to have found a second career playing men his actual age, more interesting characters than he has in some time. He was great in "The Upside of Anger" as a boozy former jock turned sport radio show jock. In "Rumor", his character is just too creepy to be likable. Why exactly would he want to sleep with Sarah, a woman so much his junior? Okay, that was a dumb question. Yes, it continues the tradition of the original film, but Sarah is in a relationship. And he still sleeps with her even after learning he has already slept with her mother and her grandmother. Sarah also knows this. And both people still let it happen. Why? It is enough to generate nightmares. And it isn't funny or romantic.
Also, early in the film, there is some question if Burroughs (Costner) is in fact Sarah's (Aniston) father. After he convinces her he isn't her biological father, they hop into the sack together. Later, at a fancy ball, Sarah runs into Burroughs' son, who unwittingly asks her to sleep with him. Somehow, I feel the filmmakers think this is a funny situation which is why they bring it up again. And again. Later, Sarah tells her sister she isn't so screwed up. "Did you sleep wit a man who slept with mom and Grandma Katherine?" Her sister responds "Oooooh, you slept with Dad? Dad slept with Grandma Katherine?" Har-de-har har. I guess I can see how the potential act of incest is funny. Can you sense the sarcasm? More than one person in the audience made an audible gasp when the film started to go down this path. I sense that Reiner lost more than a handful of potential admirers with this storyline.
One thing they didn't seem to feel necessary was to come up with an original ending. You know, something like "The Graduate"? Instead, we just get another tired variation of the guy showing up at the last possible minute. You know, like in every other "romantic" comedy we ever see?
"Rumor Has It...", with the exception of Shirley MacLaine, is a film more suited for the Lifetime Channel. Actually, that might be too harsh a critique of the Lifetime Channel.