Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Good Cast And Scarlett Johansson Naked Cannot Save He's Just Not That Into You!

The Good: One or two decent lines
The Bad: Generally poor acting, Stupid stereotyped characters, Largely not funny, Predictable, Dumb.
The Basics: Skip this movie. If you want the best of He's Just Not That Into You, watch the trailer, all of the best is there.

You know you have a true lemon on your hands when the best one might say about one's movie is "all of the best moments are in the trailer." Sadly, for He's Just Not That Into You, this is true; the best moments of the film are edited into an enjoyable two minute presentation that is far, far better than the excruciating two plus hours the full film is. Instead, He's Just Not That Into You is not as witty, clever, funny or meaningful as the previews might have made it seem. Of course, the previews for this did manage to ruin several of the arcs by showing far too much, but . . .

. . .This is something of a moot point. It did not take long before He's Just Not That Into You began to unravel in the worst possible way. There was a joke in the first season of Family Guy (reviewed here!) that was a brilliant cutaway (which I had been saving on anticipation of loathing Confessions Of A Shopaholic) that simply stated: "Lifetime: Television For Idiots." The joke was not meant to call women idiots, but it was intended to call out Lifetime for treating all women like idiots. To the same extent, in He's Just Not That Into You, the women are giggling morons who are virtually all hormone driven and operate at the extremes of human behavior. They are clingy and needy and desperate for anything that does not leave them alone. Sadly, the men are not much better. They are cheaters, idiots or ultimately end up lacking in the principles that defined their character as even momentarily worthwhile. As a result, He's Just Not That Into You is a collection of supposed gems of relationship wisdom presented in the most emotionally immature ways by a collection of flat characters who are largely poorly acted. And let me tell you, I wish I could leave it at that.

Opening with the musing that women seek out men who will treat them badly because of how they are raised as children, Conor and Gigi find themselves on a date and when it is over, Gigi obsesses on Conor not calling her. Gigi works with Beth (unmarried, in a relationship for seven years) and Janine (married) and Conor pines for Anna (yoga instructor who wants to have a music career) and is friends with Alex, who owns a bar and dispenses pearls of wisdom. As Gigi obsesses on Conor, she stumbles upon Alex, who tells her to let Conor go because he is not interested in her. As Alex gives Gigi a reality check and wake-up call, Anna finds herself playing the vixen to Ben, who is married to Janine. And Beth gives her boyfriend Neil an ultimatum, which results in them parting ways.

So, as Gigi learns to stop obsessing over any man who comes her way, Ben begins cheating on his wife with Anna, Neil takes to living on a boat and Conor desperately tries to improve his career by making his real estate business more gay friendly. . .

He's Just Not That Into You is broken into sections, like ". . . if he's not calling you," ". . . if he's not marrying you," ". . . if she's not sleeping with you," and ". . . if he's having sex with someone else" and those loose chapters serve as silent moments to let the viewer know that there is still more of the pointless melodrama yet to come. As I stretch to find anything to say about this film, one might note that in the poster-credited cast, there is one missing: that would be Drew Barrymore's Mary and her character appears for approximately five minutes and the best moments are in the trailer.

Similarly, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston give little more than cameos and their scenes are brief and sublimated to the more outrageous and convoluted stories involving the characters of Gigi, Anna and Ben. From this, the viewer infers that emotionally married couples are nowhere near as interesting as chaotic twentysomethings who have a serious deficiency of emotional intelligence.

He's Just Not That Into You is truly a limited concept and the title says it all. As Alex struggles to inform Gigi, men who are interested will let that fact be known in direct ways. If they aren't, they let that be known by avoiding the woman. Beyond the idea that men are somehow poor at communicating about relationships and that that whole responsibility it their domain or fault, the flick is a terrible representation of women. Women are almost exclusively giggling idiots in this movie and it contains such blisteringly stupid conversations as one on "code words" wherein several otherwise intelligent female characters attempt to decipher the meaning of various male phrases. It is idiotic and diminutive and it reduces the complexities of relationships into some of the most ridiculous notions shown on film.

It seems like every romantic comedy wants to be the next When Harry Met Sally, but this is not it. Instead, He's Just Not That Into You is a collection of types - not genuine characters - who lurch through their jobs and relationships without any real understanding or sense of realism. For example, throughout the film, Janine nags Ben about smoking (her father died of lung cancer). Janine nags and nags and Ben tells her he is having an affair. It was only because someone else in the theater had yelled something else out (to the effect of "Come on!") that when Janine eventually breaks down about the possibility of Ben smoking, I myself restrained my reaction of "Oh my gosh! A man would NEVER lie about TWO things! That's just crazy!" Instead, Janine seems caught off guard by the concept and instead of feeling pity or empathy for her character, the viewer just waits for her to become an adult.

In addition to having flat characters, He's Just Not That Into You is an utter waste of an otherwise wonderful cast. Drew Barrymore appears to be a cameo based - one suspects - on the fact that she was a co-producer of the film. Her character is onscreen for perhaps five minutes total and has all of the emotional resonance of any of her other sweet, quiet cameo performances and it all falls largely in predictable ways that virtually anyone who has seen the trailer would be able to guess at. Ben Affleck plays Neil the way Kevin Smith had him play Holden and Jennifer Aniston is just reprising Rachel from Friends as Beth. Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, and Kevin Connolly are all wasted by squeezing into the niches they have already been in before or should never have been stuck in. And this performance does nothing for my general lack of respect for the bland performances of Scarlett Johansson (again, if you've seen the previews, you've gotten all the Johansson nudity the flick has to offer).

Justin Long, who gave a magnificent performance in the obscure but brilliant Dreamland, is relegated to about the same role he has on the popular Mac commercials he plays the Mac on. That is to say, he delivers one-liners and waits for the audience to care. I am more likely to buy a Mac than follow Alex's advice based upon Long's deliveries.

But it is Ginnifer Goodwin who seems to get the most screentime and who appears to be the character He's Just Not That Into You revolves around most. Goodwin has the "cute as a button" thing going on, but she fails to hold the viewer's interest as Gigi. Her character is so emotionally immature that the viewer almost screams "grow up!" The thing is, we don't want to watch it happen. Goodwin does nothing to make the viewer care about her character's struggles. Instead, she seems like a girl (yes, a girl, not a woman) trapped back in a high school level of maturity who somehow made it over the fence into the adult world. Goodwin illustrates no potential and in scenes with actors of established caliber - like Connelly - who might be used poorly, she does not hold her own. Instead, her jokes fall flat and the viewer is left not caring a whiff about her or her struggles.

And that's it. And for a change, I know I was not alone, for as I sat in the packed theater, people were not laughing. The men were looking bored, the women were looking disappointed and I was left wishing I had simply reviewed the film based upon the trailer as opposed to wasting two hours of my life on it. But I survived my three movie day, even if this one tried my patience.

For other works with Bradley Cooper, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Hangover Part II
The A-Team
Valentine's Day
The Hangover
Yes Man


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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