Monday, January 27, 2014

He's Just Not That Into You (2009) [PG-13] ***+

In this ensemble relationship comedy-drama, Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is looking for romance. She symbolizes all the twenty and thirty-something women who are trusting and optimistic; who believe what the guys they are drawn to tell them. They fall for these guys, and are ultimately dumped by them, but they don't learn anything from the experience.

Gigi goes out on a lot of first dates that she thinks are successful, but the guys never call her. Her girlfriends try to be supportive and optimistic, but eventually Gigi meets Alex (Justin Long), a bartender and roommate of Conor (Kevin Connolly), a former date of Gigi's. Alex is relationship-savvy, and he's the one who tells her the truth that Conor is not going to call her. If a guy doesn't call you it means he's just not that into you.

Beth (Jenifer Aniston) has been with Neil (Ben Affleck) for seven years, the last five of which she's deceived herself into thinking Neil will ask her to marry him. But when one of her girlfriends is about to get married, Beth finally gets it. She gives Neil an ultimatum, after which we find him living on his sailboat. Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) are, supposedly, happily married. They are remodeling their townhouse, and Janine is highly stressed, and suspicious of Ben, probably because she doesn't trust his level of commitment to her. Why? Because she gave him the same ultimatum Beth gave Neil, only Ben caved in and married Janine. Her suspicions are justified; Ben casually met Anna (Scarlett Johansson) at a supermarket, and they have been carrying on a clandestine friendship during which Ben told her how he came to be married to Janine. Anna wants Ben and she senses that he's wavering in his commitment to his wife.

Based on the book by the same name, the problem with the film is that the episodic-tutorial structure of the book, while entertaining and educational, does not translate well into a screenplay. We get episodes interspersed with a quasi-documentary tutorial, which gives the film a chopped-up feeling. In addition, while the female characters are unique and well drawn, the male characters are not, and so there are several moments in which the viewer wonders: Who's this, what's his role and who's he with now... oh, yeah. The performances are believable, the directing is sensitive, and the soundtrack is appropriate, but the screenplay is the problem, and the result is that the film is somehow less than the sum of its parts. This is the latest in a long line of ensemble relationship comedy-dramas, including, most recently: Sidewalks of New York, Love Actually, Feast of LovePurple Violets and Definitely, Maybe. So if you enjoyed some of those films, and you have realistic expectations, you will feel right at home with this one. 

Labels: comedy, drama, romance   
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 47/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=51, viewers=68)    

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