Movie Review: He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)
With the rousing power Sex in the City is said to have brought to women (I wouldn’t know, I never saw the show or the movie), it was only a function of time before Hollywood attempted another feminine ensemble flick. And what better source is there than an idea dreamed up by Sex in the City writer tandem, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo? Unfortunately, lightning generally only strikes once and the self-help guide that is He’s Just Not That Into You just isn’t anything near as refreshing or new.
In a nutshell, instead of making women independent, fun and confident, they’ve become droning and monotonous — the exact reasons why a man might not be that into a girl.
Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) wonders why she can’t find herself the perfect boyfriend — or hell, one that will call her back — so she seeks advice from her friends and a bartender, Alex (Justin Long). Her friends, with whom she seeks counsel, each have their own set of problems that they’re trying to deal with. Beth (Jennifer Aniston), can’t get her boyfriend of seven years, Neil (Ben Affleck) to commit to marriage. Janine (Jennifer Connelly), is married to Ben (Bradley Cooper) but she is more interested in decorating their spiffy house than being intimate with him. This leaves Ben ripe for the pickings by sultry yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson) who, herself, isn’t that interested in her relationship with sometimes boyfriend Conor (Kevin Connolly). And the circle completes as Gigi likes Conor and Conor is Alex’s best friend.
Isn’t this how it works out for everyone in real life?
Of course not. In real life things don’t all turn out all prim and rosy either. But aside from the same old “relationship crisis-resolution with witty dialogue” formula being regurgitated yet again, I would have thought that the star studded cast would have been able to bring more spice to their roles and thus to He’s Just Not That Into You. I’m not implying that they’re guilty of sleepwalking through their scenes — Connelly comes through powerfully as she tries to fix her broken marriage, and Aniston has her moments when she is caring for her sick father (Kris Kristofferson) — but the rest are just lifeless stereotypes with nothing more to do than to piss and moan about their state of affairs. Surely there is more to life than that.
Additionally, the film tries to encompass entirely too much. Timing in at a whopping 129 minutes, He’s Just Not That Into You tries to cover every aspect of relationships, yet it never really gets its hands around a single one. Had screenwriters, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, focused on a choice few engagement rules from the book, I believe the movie would have flowed much better and the characters would have had a chance to breathe.
As it stands, He’s Just Not That Into You is a muddled romantic comedy with big aspirations and poor delivery. If you do find yourself en route to the cinema on Valentine’s Day, you’ll probably be better served seeing the retelling of Friday the 13th . . .