In 1997, Sarah Huttinger, an obituary and wedding announcement writer for The New York Times, travels to Pasadena, California, for her sister Annie's wedding, accompanied by her fiancé Jeff Daly. At a pre-wedding party, Sarah learns from her grandmother Katharine that her late mother Jocelyn ran off to Cabo San Lucas to spend time with her prep school classmate Beau Burroughs the week before her wedding to Sarah's father Earl. Jeff points out Sarah's parents were married just short of nine months before her birth, leading her to wonder if Beau might really be her biological father. Sarah also discovers her grandmother might have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson, an infamous character in the novel The Graduate.
After the wedding, determined to find out more about Beau and her mother's past, Sarah decides to fly to San Francisco, where Beau, now a highly successful and very wealthy Silicon Valley Internet wizard, is addressing a seminar. She meets him; and he admits to the affair but assures Sarah he couldn't be her father because he suffered blunt testicular trauma while playing in a high school soccer game and, as a result, is sterile. The two go out for drinks, and the following morning Sarah wakes up in Beau's bed in his Half Moon Bay home.
Although guilt-stricken by her behavior, Sarah allows Beau to convince her to be his date at a charity ball, where she meets Beau's son Blake. Beau explains his wife wanted a biological child and was artificially inseminated to become pregnant. Mollified, Sarah kisses Beau and is caught by Jeff, who has returned to California to find her. Following an ensuing argument, Jeff leaves her. Dejected, Sarah returns to visit Katharine, who flies into a rage when she learns Beau has slept with her granddaughter. The two learn Annie suffered an anxiety attack while flying to her honeymoon and wants to talk to Sarah. Sarah tells her sister about the relationship three generations of Richelieu women have had with Beau. She reassures Annie she truly is in love with her husband, Scott, and in doing so realizes she's ready to marry Jeff.
It is also revealed that Earl was the one who accidentally caused Beau's testicular trauma. This makes Beau somewhat nervous to be around Earl, though Katherine is quite pleased by the revelation. Earl reveals to Sarah he always knew about Jocelyn and Beau's affair. Despite Beau being a fling for her, Jocelyn returned to Earl because she loved him and he was someone with whom she could build a life. On the night she returned, Sarah was conceived. This explained the date difference between her birthday and her parents' wedding.
Determined to win Jeff back, Sarah returns to New York City and tells her fiancé about her feelings. They reconcile on the condition, if they ever have a daughter, she would not be allowed anywhere near Beau. The film ends with Sarah and Jeff's wedding.
Screenwriter Ted Griffin was the original director, but problems arose soon after principal photography began on July 21, 2004. The production fell several days behind schedule in the first week, and on August 5, Griffin fired cinematographer Ed Lachman from the project. Griffin was let go by executive producer Steven Soderbergh the following day, and the production shut down in order to allow replacement Rob Reiner to make script, cast, and crew changes before resuming filming on August 18. Original cast members Charlie Hunnam, Lesley Ann Warren, Tony Bill, and Greta Scacchi were replaced by Reiner.
Nellie McKay recorded six tracks for the film, all of which were released exclusively on iTunes and eventually other digital markets.
- "Black Sheep"
- "BB Blues"
- "Just One of Those Things" (Cole Porter)
- "Pasadena Girl"
- "Face of a Faith"
- "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)"—with musician Taj Mahal (Otis/Stein/Benton)
The film's unreleased soundtrack also features several standards, including the theme from A Summer Place by Max Steiner, "Secret Love" by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, "Moonlight Serenade" by Glenn Miller and Mitchell Parish, "In the Mood" by Joe Garland, "I'm Beginning to See the Light" by Harry James, Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, and Don George, and "As Time Goes By" by Herman Hupfeld.
Rumor Has It... received mostly negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 20% rating based on reviews from 111 critics, with the consensus: "This riff on The Graduate has a solid cast, but is too lightweight to fully register." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score from 1 to 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film a score of 35 based on 29 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".
A. O. Scott of The New York Times said, "I suppose Rumor Has It could be worse, though at the moment I'm at a loss to say just how. Ms. MacLaine and Mr. Costner are seasoned professionals, giving lackluster laugh lines more juice than they deserve, and Jennifer Aniston is as plucky and engaging as ever ... [but her] efforts are wasted in a movie that can't even seem to sustain interest in itself."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed, "The plot ... sounds like a gimmick. That's because it is a gimmick. But it's a good gimmick. And Rumor Has It works for good reasons, including sound construction and the presence of Kevin Costner ... a natural actor with enormous appeal ... This is not a great movie, but it's very watchable and has some good laughs. The casting of Aniston is crucial, because she's the heroine of this story, and ... has the presence to pull it off."
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said, "The movie has that fatal triptych that is becoming Reiner's romantic-comedy signature: drippy sentiment, zany scenes that trivialize the characters and a horror of adventure ... needless to say, Rumor Has It fails as a successor to The Graduate. It fails artistically but also philosophically, in that it rebuts the spirit of the earlier film, while offering nothing attractive in its place."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded it one out of four stars, calling it a "comic turd" and adding, "The creepy script, by T.M. Griffin, is directed by Rob Reiner in a sleepwalking daze that Costner emulates by rotely repeating his performance in The Upside of Anger and in the process squeezing all the juice."
Brian Lowry of Variety said, "As muddled in most respects as its title, Rumor Has It... begins with an intriguing premise ... but it devolves into a bland romance spiced with too little comedy ... There's a germ of an idea here, but Reiner and Griffin race through the plot beats so rapidly that poor Sarah seldom has time to breathe, which also describes the movie ... [Aniston] never settles down enough to offer more than a shrill whine and pained expression."
The film opened at number 10 at the U.S. box office, on 2,815 screens on Christmas Day 2005, and earned $3,473,155 on that first day. It eventually grossed $43,000,262 domestically and $45,933,300 in international markets for a worldwide box office total of $88,933,562.
The film was released on DVD on May 9, 2006. It has grossed $21 million in US DVD sales.