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He's Just Not That Into You (2009; Rated Rated PG-13)

He's Just Not That Into You

“ Like that's a problem for Scarlett Johansson.”

-Richard Roeper


He's Just Not That Into You

(2009; PG-13)

In theaters:
Friday, 6 February 2009

Summary: The Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story arcs deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Ken Kwapis

There's something very Hollywood about the adaptation of the insanely popular "He's Just Not That Into You," a book that offered little wisdom or insight beyond that admittedly catchy title.

For one thing, they took a trifle of a self-help book, loaded it with stars, and padded it to a running time of 129 minutes. Folks, "Annie Hall" was 93 minutes long. And "He's Just Not That Into You" is no "Annie Hall."

Then there's the matter of casting. Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck. Right. You start lining up people like that you and you might want to think about changing the title to, "Just About Everyone's Into You." Everybody in this movie is either gorgeous and thin, handsome and thin or cute and thin. We see regular-sized, regular-looking people only in a few straight-to-camera vignettes. The rest of this movie is a bunch of attractive people playing games with each other. The women in particular are clingy and often desperate.

Ginnifer Goodwin is a likable actress, but as the narrator and central character, she's so needy, so frantic and so obsessed with finding the right guy that she's about one meltdown away from being placed in an institution. And the acting choices! At times Goodwin seems to be channeling Shirley Temple, what with all the frowns and exaggerated nodding of the head. No man in his right mind would ever call this woman after a first date. In fact, you could understand why a guy would excuse himself, go to the bathroom and try to climb out the window, even if there wasn't a window.

"He's Just Not That Into You" is set in Baltimore, where real estate must be incredibly cheap, because virtually everyone in the movie seems to be living in fabulous, spacious lofts, even though they have seemingly average jobs (when their jobs are defined at all). Goodwin's Gigi, Jennifer Connelly's Janine and Jennifer Aniston's Beth all have cubicles at some sort of spice or tea company. Hard to say what it is because they never, ever work. They just stand around trying to figure out men, and nobody ever emerges from an office to say, "All right ladies, you're all tremendously attractive, but you're going to have to do SOMETHING at some point to justify those paychecks."

Justin Long's Alex runs a giant restaurant/bar. He has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of women at his fingertips, but he's not really into any of them. But he takes pity on poor Gigi and becomes her relationship counselor, taking her calls at all hours to set her straight about her latest dating disaster. Most of their talks consist of Gigi saying, "Why doesn't he like me?" and Alex essentially telling her, "Because you're a very scary person."

Janine's husband is having an affair with a busty would-be singer (Johansson), Beth can't get her longtime boyfriend (Ben Affleck) to commit, Kevin Connolly from "Entourage" is a real estate agent who's in love with the aforementioned busty would-be singer, and Drew Barrymore is an ad salesperson for the local gay newspaper. Their romantic misadventures are many. It's all perfectly pleasant, occasionally amusing and more than a little tiresome. Connelly is particularly strong, but she almost seems to be in another movie. Nearly everybody else is in sitcom mode, and Connelly's dealing with the death of a marriage the way a real person would face such a crisis.

Then there's Kris Kristofferson, who looks like he wandered over to the set and said, "Tell you what, I'll play the dad." At the rehearsal dinner for Beth's sister's wedding, the white-bearded Kris interrupts an idiot cousin who's blabbering on, stands up and tells the family, "That yellow stuff on your plates isn't mustard, it's the lobster's ecto pancreas." WTF!

"HJNTIY" (I'm tired of typing that title) is directed by Ken Kwapis who has helmed numerous episodes of "The Office," which tells us he has talent, but also the execrable "License to Wed," which tells us he can be a part of something truly awful. This film has too much star power and is too inoffensive to be labeled "awful," but it's a vanilla romantic comedy that's not romantic enough and not funny enough----and despite all that, we all know it's going to make a boatload of money, don't we?
Programming note. The IMDB entry for Kwapis lists his latest movie in the following fashion: "He's Just Not That Into You (2009), aka Er steht einfach nicht auf Dich! (Germany)."

Good to know.

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