Newly engaged Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) heads back home to California for the wedding of her little sister, Annie (Mena Suvari). While she’s there, she discovers that her grandmother and mother might have been the inspiration for Charlie Webb’s novel, The Graduate. Desperate to discover the truth, Sarah seeks Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner), a millionaire she suspects could be her real father.
I can’t really say this is some unofficial sequel to The Graduate because it”s supposed to be about the family that inspired the book/movie? Or something like that. Sarah’s mother and grandmother both slept with Beau Burroughs… Beau bragged about it to his college buddy, Charlie Webb, who then wrote a novel about it. Sarah, who feels completely removed from her family, becomes convinced that Beau is her real father, especially after finding out her mother had an affair with him the week before her wedding to Earl (Richard Jenkins).
Some Spoilers Below…
So Sarah, engaged to Jeff, played by cutie patootie Mark Ruffalo, sends Jeff back to NYC so she can track down Beau. After some alcohol and finding out that Beau is sterile (so he says), Sarah sleeps with him. Thus begins the ick factor of the entire film. Look, I know Beau is supposedly sterile and not Sarah’s dad, but she thought he was and then, with a snap of the finger, she’s having sex with him. And he’s had sex with her mother… and grandmother! It’s just… icky!
Shirley MacLaine is a treat as Sarah’s grandmother, Katharine, and I’ve always enjoyed Richard Jenkins as well. But for me, the movie’s brightest spot is Mark Ruffalo as Jeff. He’s supportive and trusting of Sarah, but he’s also pretty damn funny. Beau is… odd. Sure, he’s a millionaire, but there’s just something strange about him. Obviously Sarah is experiencing an identity crisis, but her choices in this film make zero sense to me. What is is about Beau that appeals so much? He’s handsome and rich? Pah.
I realized after the fact that I watched two Rob Reiner films in a row – Alex and Emma being the first – and both were mildly disappointing. I saw Rumor Has It… ages ago but could only remember the fact that Sarah slept with a guy she thought was her dad just because he claimed to be sterile – DNA test anyone? – and I think that’s all I’ll take away from this rewatch too. It’s just a cookie-cutter film that lands awkwardly in its message. There aren’t many laughs when Ruffalo isn’t on screen and it’s really hard to feel empathy for Sarah when she can so easily hurt the people who love her, all because she doesn’t share much in common with her father. I adored the cast, truly, but the movie itself is just a mess.