He's Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

The very, very insightfully-titled He’s Just Not That Into You is less a singular rom-com than it is six rolled into one. Kind of like an American Love, Actually with a Bridget Jones–type character in Ginnifer Goodwin, it’s an ideal date movie that oscillates between chick flick clichés and a few long-overdue dating observations.

Seeking advice about guys, the unlucky-in-love Gigi (Goodwin) gets guidance from unattached bartender Alex (Justin Long) after a date with his roommate Connor (Kevin Connolly). Connor is a real estate agent who wants to get more serious with yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson), but unfortunately she likes a married man. The married man in question is Ben (Bradley Cooper) whose marriage to Janine (Jennifer Connelly) has lost all of its spark. Then there’s Ben’s nice-guy brother Neil (Ben Affleck) who loves longterm girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Aniston) but is fundamentally opposed to marriage. Elsewhere, ad exec Mary (Drew Barrymore) feels frustrated by dating in the modern age.

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Interestingly, while undoubtedly a romantic comedy, director Ken Kapis (known for funny shows such as The Office and Malcolm In The Middle), it’s more interested in examining modern love in the contemporary age of technology. As Barrymore’s superfluous Mary succinctly explains; "I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It's exhausting.”

However, despite the fact that it’s based on a line of dialogue from an episode of Sex And The City (yes, just a line, not an episode, a line) which inspired a self-help book for women, there’s a few viewpoints that’ll have male viewers nodding in agreement. One is that all girls need a man to be happy while men are content enough as it is. Another is that to a woman marriage is everything, to a guy it means thinking about all the ladies they’ll never have.

Then there’s also the viewpoint that the fairer sex typically want to advance relations faster than their stubbly counterparts. If you’re dating, they want to be in a relationship. If you’re in a relationship they want to be married. And if you’re married, then get ready for the patter of tiny feet…

Still, the Shelias out there needn’t worry as there’s plenty of bloke-bashing, too. The ideal female viewer will be women like Gigi (only concerned with getting A Boyfriend, with no interests beyond that), since the film's philosophy suggests that if you are not loved up, in a relationship or open to being in one then there is something wrong with you. Whether this poppycock argument will be believed or not, there’s also a subsidiary argument (although it's given less screen time) that many girls pin their hopes of a happy ever-after on fairytales they’ve heard from friends of friends.

Unfortunately, the plausibility prevalent throughout is undone with an all-too typical Hollywood ending. Largely going against everything it’s spent two hours preaching, the guy opposed to opening up decides to opens up, the gal unlucky in love becomes lucky and the chap who won’t propose…well I’m sure you can guess.

Thankfully, a cast that is better than this sort of picture usually gets elevates the material to something strangely enjoyable. Yes, they’re mostly stereotypes (the desperately single girl, the cheating husband, the impatient wife-in-waiting and so on), but they’re mostly recognisable. While Bradley Cooper, Connelly and Aniston are all impressive (never mind Johansson in her millionth temptress-with-a-heart role), it’s Long who is the pick of the bunch, with many words of spot-on wisdom.

It might be a mix of worn-out conventions and thoughts that nearly every guy on the planet will have had at one point, but He’s Just Not That Into You does have substance to offer. More importantly, fellas, as far as date flicks that you’ll get dragged along to watch, it could be much worse.

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2009
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Love is all around, but saccharine's kept at bay.
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Read more He's Just Not That Into You reviews:

Martin Gray ****
Jennifer McGillan ***

Director: Ken Kwapis

Writer: Abby Kohn, Mark Silverstein

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin. Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Justin Long, Drew Barrymore

Year: 2009

Runtime: 129 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US, Germany


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