Friday, February 6, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You starts out with some promise, but, as romcoms are prone to do, falls prey to contrivance and the inevitable happy ending which is cuter than a basket of newborn kittens. Adapted from a self-help book the film does take a (at least occasionally) funny look at how women regard relationships in a mostly twisted and illogical way.

The plot centers around a group of romantically challenged individuals including a loving longtime couple (Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston) dealing with the question of marriage, a quirky young woman (Ginnifer Goodwin) who can't seem to find a guy, Justin Long as the nice-jerk you find in films like this with an encyclopedic knowledge of women's bad relationship habits, a real estate agent (Kevin Connolly) in love with a Yoga instructor (Scarlett Johansson) who is more infatuated with a guy she met in a grocery store whose wife (Jennifer Connelly) keeps his balls in her purse. Oh, and I forgot Drew Barrymore (and so does the film for large stretches) as woman trying to find romance online surrounded by the trademark swishy gay friends who have nothing better to do than help their hetero pals find love.

Did you follow all that? Not to worry, given enough time watching this flick you'll simply stop caring. The film has two main problems. The first is there's simply too many stories all going on at the same time. Too many characters. Too much drama. And of all these characters only Goodwin's crazy woman (who you would run screaming from in real life) is remotely likable. We don't care about these characters, we don't root for them, we know how each relationship is going to end, and we're more than a little perturbed when the film which promised to take a harder line on romance allows every single character their own happy ending.

The second, and more troubling, problem is the film's attempt to look down its nose at relationships and romantic comedies on one hand while at the same time relying on many of the same contrivances of the genre (no matter what the marketing says). You can't have it both ways. When the film sticks to its harsh look at women's views of relationships it works; when it tries to be a cute romantic comedy it fails.

If you judge in terms of romantic comedies He's Just Not That Into You comes out ahead of the curve. But on a scale which includes 27 Dresses, Over Her Dead Body, and anything starring Kate Hudson or Mandy Moore, that doesn't mean as much as you'd think. Is it better than having your girlfriend drag you to one of those? Yes, but again so is a swift kick in the crotch. Will it serve main purpose of a romcom for getting you laid? Well sure, so will Ruffies, but neither is recommended.

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