Rumour Has It (12A)

ANDREW CLARKE Rumour Has It has been conceived as a bizarre re-make/sequel to Mike Nichols Sixties classic The Graduate.


I have to admit that although I go along to movies with an open mind, sometimes it is the most difficult part of the job - especially when you learn that Rumour Has It has been conceived as a bizarre

re-make/sequel to Mike Nichols Sixties classic The Graduate.

This time around, Kevin Costner plays the Benjamin Braddock role originally created by Dustin Hoffman, Shirley MacLaine is an older Mrs Robinson while Jennifer Aniston plays her granddaughter.

My initial reaction was one of horror. This was a very bad idea and should not be attempted by anyone. I was hoping that I would be proved wrong. I am not adverse to eating humble pie, but sadly my worst fears were realised - Rumour Has It is a travesty of a film and, what is worse, it is a bad idea that is also poorly executed.

The screenplay is a series of poorly-realised sketches strung together with little barely a thread of continuity. The central conceit of the movie is that The Graduate was based on the complicated sex lives of a real family and that family belongs to the neurotic Sarah Huttinger played by Jennifer Aniston in full Rachel-from-Friends mode. Mark Ruffalo is a very capable actor, but, as Just Like Heaven proved, comedy is not his forté. One of the big problems with both Just Like Heaven and Rumour Has It is that there is precious little chemistry between Ruffalo and his leading ladies. His comedy comes across as being very forced and his acting, in a comedy situation, leaden.

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Rumor Has It opens with Sarah (Aniston) flying with Jeff, her fiancé, (Ruffalo) to California to attend her sister's wedding. It's a big family affair and it doesn't take long for the spectre of The Graduate and the family's role in that scandal to raise its ugly head.

Sarah becomes increasingly obsessed with finding out the truth when she discovers that her mother (that Katherine Ross character in The Graduate) went missing for a week immediately prior to her wedding and how she was born less than nine months later.

The trail leads her to San Francisco where she discovers Beau Burroughs (Costner) who admits to being not only her mother's lover but also her grandmother's (McLaine) who, it appears, was the inspiration for Mrs Robinson.

After Aniston ends up in Costner's bed, there is a nauseating exchange between the pair when Aniston asks her new lover: "Do all the women in the Huttinger family have to sleep with you?

Costner's Beau Burroughs replies: "No they don't have to, but they appear to want to." It's enough to make your flesh creep.

The film's sole redeeming feature comes in the form of Shirley MacLaine who breezes through the movie firing off one-liners and some scorchingly good barbs which keep this film alive - but only just.

It's the only character in the film with life about it.

Costner's character is just too insufferably smug for anyone to relate to. Mark Ruffalo is just too dull. Jennifer Aniston's Sarah is just too self-absorbed and neurotic for her own good. And her father (Richard Jenkins) is so bland he barely registers.

The most amazing thing is that this disaster of a film has been conjured into existence by Rob Reiner, the otherwise talented director who gave us the excellent A Few Good Men and the classic When Harry Met Sally.

One can only hope that this is a temporary aberration that will soon be corrected.

A hugely disappointing film.

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