Sunday, February 8, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

When I first saw previews for He’s Just Not That Into You, I wondered: why are so many big name actors in this so-so looking movie? I thought maybe, just maybe, it could be a not-quite-as-good Love, Actually. It wasn’t.

The movie opens with a scene in which a mother consoles her daughter who has just been yelled at and pushed by a boy at the playground, by telling her he did it because he likes you. Soon follows a montage of women in bars, in sororities, in a military boot camp, and even in a small African village telling their friends the many reasons men don’t call back is that they are either insecure, intimidated, or perhaps lost their “hut number.” Or is it, as the title proposes that He’s Just Not That Into You?

The story focuses on four women at different stages of the game. Mary (Drew Barrymore) is dating in the technological age when she can find time- on Myspace, through texting, and getting messages on her cell phone and her work phone. Her storyline could seem overly cutesy, but her role is small and it’s genuinely funny when she complains about how exhausting it is to be rejected through all these media.

Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is doing everything the old fashioned way- yes she cyber stalks, but she mainly stalks in person, and does “drive-bys” to bars where she might run into certain men. Even with a cell phone and internet access, Gigi waits around her apartment on weekends wondering why her pink, corded house-phone (I didn’t know anyone still had house phones besides my parents and grandparents) isn’t ringing after a guy said he would call. Maybe because he said “It was nice to meet you” at the end of the date. While she may not be techno-savvy, she does gain some insight on men from Alex (Justin Long), even if she is misreading the signs he sends her.

Beth (Jennifer Aniston) is waiting for Neil (Ben Affleck) to propose marriage after 7 years of dating and living together. When he tells her that is never going to happen, she dumps him. I found Beth to be the most likeable character in the movie because she is the only one not screwing anyone over or being screwed over. Beth spends the majority of the movie getting insults and sympathy from her family and taking care of her father after he has a heart attack. The closest thing she has to a date is getting hit on by a male Wiccan at her sister’s wedding, so it’s no surprise that she ends up back with Neil.

Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) are a married couple in the middle of a house renovation. This renovation is the latest distraction in a failing marriage, which is based on Janine giving Ben an ultimatum- we get married, or we break up. Janine has given up on sex in her marriage and admits she is not as fun as she was at the beginning of the relationship. Janine learns late in the game that her husband is not that into her, and has to start all over again. Connelly has one of the best scenes in the movie as Janine finally makes a decision, and starts throwing Ben’s stuff out of the finished house and smashes a mirror to pieces. Her obsessive-compulsive side kicks in, and she immediately begins sweeping up the mess and leaves her husband’s belongings in a neat pile on the staircase.

The last “couple” are Conor (Kevin Connolly) and Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who are friends with benefits, only they’re not really friends, and there aren’t really benefits. This is the case where she is not into him. Conor never returns Gigi’s calls because he is too busy trying to get something more out of Anna. Meanwhile, Anna is chasing after a career by way of a married man, Ben.

This role-reversal points out what this movie could have used- a little more diversity in the storyline and cast. The movie features four white women with different views and approaches on dating, sex, and love and their white, male love interests. That has been done on “Sex and the City” (yes, I know the movie is based on the book from a line of an episode of SATC). When a black coworker of Alex’s says “Day-amn,” followed by nothing, I can’t help but think of Malik in Not Another Teen Movie saying “I am the token black guy. I'm just supposed to smile and stay out of the conversation and say things like: ‘Damn,’ ‘Shit,’ and ‘That is whack.’”

There are also gay characters, but they are there to comment on their own erections at the office and to teach Mary that Myspace is the new booty call. Conor, while trying to woo the gay crowd for his real estate business, learns that gay signals are different from straight signals: a three second stare means “I want to sleep with you,” anything less than that means “I’m not interested.” Because, gay people are all about one thing and none of them have complex relationships and dating problems?

Overall, this movie is watch-able, but not at all memorable. The actors all do a fine job, but no one stands out. There is some funny dialogue, but no great one-liners. I give it a 4 out of 7. I would give it 5, but…I’m just not that into it.

Rating: 4 out of 7

1 comment:

Kim said...

Tim, excellent review!!! Sorry that I am Janine.

They gay characters were totally one dimensional, which was lame. I think it was the movies lame attempt of inclusion, it would almost be better if they were left out entirely.

I love that you pointed out Gigi's old fashioned ways with the phone and stalking in person. I caught on to that but had an AHA! moment reading this. Well done.