The entire basis for Rumor Has It… is that a woman learns that both her mother and grandmother were the basis for 1967’s The Graduate.
Following the end of Sundance, I was in the mood for a comedy and decided to rewatch this film for the first time since the theatrical release. The fact of the matter is that this film has a solid amount of laughs and laughs are so desperately needed right now. It isn’t perfect by any means but after living through the month that was January 2022, I deserved a break from the heavier content.
Rob Reiner stepped into direct after screenwriter Ted Griffin was fired as director following twelve days of production. Reiner would make some changes to the script, cast, and crew before resuming production over a week later. Production troubles are normal in this business but firing the director of a studio film is rare. It feels like it is becoming a mutual thing between both parties in recent years. But in any event, I laughed throughout the final product!
When it comes to watching a comedy, the number one rule is if they make you laugh. If you’re not laughing, it’s quite a problem. Thankfully, there are laughs-a-plenty to be found in Rumor Has It…! It especially helps when you have some familiarity with the classic 1967 movie. Where this film turns The Graduate on its hands is by focusing on the family that Charles Webb allegedly based his book. It goes without saying:
No real people are portrayed in this film. This is a fictional film, inspired by something that supposedly happened a long time ago.
The hysterics take things to the next level when obituary writer Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston) learns her mother, Jocelyn, and grandmother, Katharine Richelieu (Shirley MacLaine), are the basis for The Graduate. Sarah only learns this information upon telling her grandmother that she is not sure about marriage to fiancé Jeff Day (Mark Ruffalo). Katharine tells Sarah that Jocelyn went to Cabo San Lucas just before her wedding to Earl (Richard Jenkins). Aunt Mitzy (Kathy Bates) corroborates everything while adding that Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) had been friends with Webb. Talk about learning your family is the inspiration behind a cinematic classic!
What does Sarah do with this? The only thing she can do! Go straight to Beau and find out the truth. It turns out that Beau cannot be her father because it is physically impossible. A high school soccer game resulted in blunt testicular trauma. Ouch! I do love how the film finds a way to make a callback later. It’s a classic comedy rule that Sarah ends up sleeping with Beau. Her grandmother, her mother, and now her. Of course, meeting Beau’s son, Blake (Mike Vogel), leads Sarah to think that Beau isn’t telling the truth. And if things could not possibly get worse, Jeff is within view when Sarah kisses Beau. Cheating on significant others runs strong in the Richelieu/Huttinger family!
Rumor Has It… is a romantic comedy so the film falls into the traditional beats. It is not a case of Sarah ending up with Beau but coming back to Jeff at the end of the day. However, there’s just a lot of drama in between. Well, drama playing for laughs if we want to be precise about it.
Rumor Has It… has the laughs and the cast to pull it off.
DIRECTOR: Rob Reiner
SCREENWRITER: Ted Griffin
CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Christopher McDonald, Steven Sandvoss, Mena Suvari, Mike Vogel
Warner Bros. released Rumor Has It… in theaters on December 25, 2005.
Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.