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Rumor has it ...

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Genre: Misbegotten chick flick

The pitch: Newly engaged, neurotic New Yorker Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) obsesses over a rumor that her Californian family inspired the cross-generation trysts of The Graduate in the early 1960s. Things take a queasy turn when she gets the hots for the aging stud (Kevin Costner) who canoodled with both Sarah's mom and grandmother (Shirley MacLaine, the only watchable one here).

Money shots: It's always nice seeing the "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me," clip from The Graduate. Otherwise, there are no money shots as Sarah flails through romantic comedy cliches in Pasadena and San Francisco.

Flesh factor: Sarah slips out of bed revealing an unclad back and a hint of bosom, but no more than you'd see on one of Aniston's countless magazine covers.

Fashion statements: Sarah's weekend wardrobe runs the gamut from formal evening gowns to studiously ripped blue jeans, like she's on the wane of the grunge era (the film takes place in 1997).

Burning question: Does the film take place in 1997 out of some Internet-boom, pre-Lewinsky nostalgia? No, it's because a plot point hinges on Sarah being conceived in the early 1960s, so if the film took place today, she'd be in her 40s -- and apparently we can't have that.

Pop references: Apart from the obvious, the film makes a drawn-out homage to Casablanca at a fancy costume party themed around the Bogart picture. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly music plays when Grandmother faces off with Beau.

Hit single: Nellie McKay serves as this film's equivalent to Simon and Garfunkel in The Graduate, by providing songs throughout, including "Pasadena Girl" and "Baby, You've Got What it Takes" (a duet with Taj Mahal). Of course, "Mrs. Robinson" pops up.

Better than The Graduate? Are you kidding? Maybe this could've worked if a director like Wes Anderson had used actors from the original film in a kind of meta-joke, but director Rob Reiner doesn't even have the courtesy to dedicate the film to the late Anne Bancroft.

The bottom line: Just like Hillary Clinton was elected senator after her husband's publicized fling, Aniston has seemingly become America's most famous actress when husband Brad Pitt dumped her for Angelina Jolie. But between this and Derailed, she's also apparently bent on making the year's worst films as well. To sum up the humor, acting and tone of Rumor Has It... I have just one word: Plastics. Opens Dec. 23. HIIII

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