“He’s Just Not That Into You”
At Quality 16 and Showcase
New Line Cinema
2 out of 5 stars
The best-selling self-help book by John Gray offered neurotic singletons and couples a bit of valuable eponymous insight: “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” The idea behind the book was that people of different genders might as well be from different planets in terms of their emotional needs. But consider this counter argument: Men and women may be planets away in terms of how they choose to communicate, but when it comes to matters of the heart, everyone is the same. Everyone is nuts.
A movie like “He’s Just Not That Into You” capitalizes on the inescapable fact that relationships bring out the inner craziness in just about everyone. After all, why deal with real messed-up relationships when a movie can depict prettier people dealing with the same shit? Inspired by a scene from a “Sex and the City” episode, the film is like “Crash” for lovers.
In the middle of it all is Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin, TV’s “Big Love”), a 20-something who’s looking — scratch that, obsessively hunting — for love in all the wrong places. Her breakthrough revelation — some guys may “just not be that into her” — is a catalyst for the rest of the film, in which she and various other troubled lovers try to understand the gap between what is love and what is just game-playing.
The film is wisely stacked with bold-faced, big-name stars and the charisma of actresses Drew Barrymore (“Lucky You”) and Jennifer Aniston (“Marley and Me”) makes their scenes some of the film’s more enjoyable and touching moments. Yes, the two play modified variations of the characters they always play, but they’re still charming. Less can be said for the men — they are basically props for women to project their neurotic thoughts onto. But kudos to Ben Affleck (“Smokin’ Aces”) who snagged a role that will have moviegoers — particularly females — “aww” in adoration.
“He’s Just Not That into You” also boasts a surprisingly strong plot considering its origin as a single line of dialogue uttered in a “Sex and the City” episode years ago. Nevertheless, the subject matter is still awfully cringe-worthy.
When a character lingers late after a party just to have her advances harshly rejected, the result is a train wreck: It’s difficult to watch but impossible to look away from. It’s troubling that the film uses such moments of romantic humiliation as instances of humor. Gigi’s self-delusion is played for laughs, but it’s not funny or entertaining. It’s just sad.
The real deal-breaker for the film, however, is its overall message. After her optimistic love-bubble is burst, Gigi explains to her female coworkers that she is the “rule,” not the “exception,” meaning that she, like others, will never change men into what she wants she want them to be.
But the film still finishes wrapped in a tidy bow with fairy tale endings and multiple love matches. The movie demands that reality be applied to relationships. But it also implies that a simple crossing of fingers and heartfelt wishes are enough to get that one true prince to get his ass off the couch and onto a white horse, in order to sweep his princess away. And those two qualities are at significant odds with each other.
If “He’s Just Not That Into You” is this generation’s self-help book, then everyone is in for a world of trouble. Here’s a real piece of relationship advice: If you don’t want to be forced to obsess about the ins and outs of complicated love lives, then this movie is probably not for you.