Entertainment » Movies

He’s Just Not That Into You

by Padraic Maroney
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 6, 2009
He’s into her... or is he? Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston star
He’s into her... or is he? Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston star  (Source:Flower Films)

"He's Just Not That into You."

That line is one of the many gifts that pop culture was given by "Sex and the City." From Miranda uttering the line in one episode came a bestselling book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

Now we have the film version coming out just in time for Valentine's Day to serve as the anti-date movie.

The problem with turning this book into a movie, unlike most literary adaptations, is that "He's Just Not That into You" isn't a novel with a storyline and characters.

In an effort to relate the film back to the book, the filmmakers have taken the book's structure as the basis for the film. The chapter titles of the book serve as markers in the film as well with the titles appearing onscreen, followed by a brief interview section.

Most of the film follows the interweaving stories of nine Baltimore residents. The central character is that of hopelessly pathetic Gigi ("Big Love" star Ginnifer Goodwin), who feels no guy is going to ever love her.

She gains some insight to the male species after talking with bartender Alex (Justin Long) and hearing things from a male perspective. It's from the sharing of this insight that things run amok for her co-workers, Beth, who after seven years is fed up with her boyfriend being opposed to marriage, and Janine, who has a trustless marriage.

The women aren't the only ones dealing with relational woes. Conor ("Entourage"'s Kevin Connelly) doesn't understand why his girlfriend, Anna (Scarlett Johansson), is pulling away. What he doesn't know is that Anna has begun to see Ben (Bradley Cooper), who is married to Janine.

It's a twisted web spun by the characters that almost makes you yearn for the old bedding hopping days of "Melrose Place"--at least then we knew what to expect. The problem with "He's Just Not That Into You" is that it tries to inject comedy into the characters' situations in ways that mostly fall awkwardly flat.

The characters are all unhappy, whether they admit it or not, because of their relationship status. With so many characters revolving around the film's orbit, no time can really be spent to examine much from any of the characters' situations. At a running time of just over two hours, the film moves has to move at a quick pace to be able to cover everything.

What's surprising about the unevenness of the script is that it comes from Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, who previously worked with Drew Barrymore and her producing partner Nancy Juvonen on the hit "Never Been Kissed." Having proven they can make endearing romantic comedies, this effort becomes even more disappointing than it might otherwise be had an unknown team been hired.

The ensemble film has compiled one of the highest wattage casts in recent memory with even the smaller roles going to recognizable actors (run out for a bathroom break and you might miss Wilson Cruz's whole part). With everyone from Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, and Jennifer Connelly appearing in the film, it's hard to concentrate at times due to the cornucopia of actors.

Coming out as the best among the all-star cast are Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck as Beth and her longtime boyfriend, Neil. They become the emotional center of the film, despite the focus of their story temporarily shifting once her father has a heart attack.

Others, like Drew Barrymore as Johansson's best friend, serve as little more than a distraction. Barrymore, who also produces the film, has never had a problem taking smaller roles in films, but usually she ends up serving a purpose. Here, she is merely another A-lister mugging for the camera as an unlucky in love newspaper employee.

Goodwin is grating as Gigi, and Long serves as a yin to her yang. Serving as the author's voice, he doles out relationship advice to the lovelorn girl, but can't quite seem to figure out how to negotiate the dating waters himself. At least the two of them have chemistry together on screen making it fun to watch them banter back and forth. It is through Long's blunt dating information that the most laughs are garnered.

With the title of the film becoming such a popularly used phrase, it is interesting that not one character utters it. A few times, someone gives an altered version, but no one comes right out and says it. Surely, after seeing the film, many people will also be offering their own variation that will go something along the lines of, "I'm just not that into this movie."

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