He’s Just Not That Into You [movies]

By: E · February 16, 2009


When I first heard about He’s Just Not That Into You, the romantic comedy based on an advice book that is the dumbed down equivalent of a fierce slap in the face of reality, I was under the impression that it would be a heinous mess of a movie, full of unlikable characters who act in unrealistic ways to drive home a point that most of us, it not all, can get from an honest friend over a couple of Old Fashioneds at your local dive bar. Turns out I was wrong..it’s not heinous, it’s just kind of stupid. It’s not a mess, it’s just kind of disjointed. And the characters aren’t really unlikable or unrealistic, they’re just kind of annoying. And somewhere in this movie is an echo of emotional resonance that, though it doesn’t say anything new, says something fiercely in its own unique way. And for that, I have to give it some respect, and even say that I generally kinda liked it, even though journalistic integrity requires me to tell you that it’s just not that good a movie.

The problem with this movie stems from the fact that it’s a play on an advice column, and advice is factually specific. And when it comes to romantic and/or interpersonal relationships, there isn’t any kind of panacea for the collective suffering we all encounter when trying to find love, or something like it. Yet, this movie makes an effort to say that there are universal truths, and does it through the central character, Gigi, who let’s face it, is not to be trusted. She’s sold to us as quirky, naive, cute, and full of integrity, but really she’s just kind of insane and just plain wrong most of the time. It takes Alex, the local bartender who spits the straight dope, to pull her out of her lovesick morass and make her finally realize what she’s supposed to demand from the men in her life. This general construct is applied to other archetypal relationships (a failing marriage, a working marriage, a fling, a mixed signal buddy/sex relationship, an internet dater), that there is something we’re supposed to be recognizing, and thus taking a stand on in our lives that will somehow make everything better. And fine, this would be great advice (as obvious as it may be), but the movie doesn’t even stick to its own brand of wisdom. To stay free of spoilers, let’s just say that every single resolution of this movie’s various plotlines ranges from borderline to flat out baffling unsatisfying events. What makes it even more frustrating is the simple fact that most of these situations resolve themselves fine, albeit not in the “Happily Ever After” way. And it’s the application of the movie’s own advice that twists them into something unnecessary, or opposite of what they were really trying to accomplish.

But I can’t lie. There’s something about the experience that makes you laugh along with the movie at times, and gives you plenty of chances to laugh at it as well. And buried under the weird and/or awful performances (Scarlet Johansson either overacts or underacts her entire time on screen, and Kevin Connoly is plain unlikable), there are some gems here to hang some credibility on. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston bring some veteran chops to probably the most satisfying storyline, and Bradley Cooper actually proves that he’s a fairly good actor. And though he has the most unrewarding part in the movie, Justin Long manages to make a decent character out of Alex, where most actors would’ve made him a grade A asshole, simply because that’s what he is.

You may walk out of He’s Just Not That Into You with an air of snobbery, thinking that anyone who takes wisdom away from that movie is a fool. But we can’t deny the fact that at one point in all our lives, we’ve been as bad, or maybe even worse than all these characters, and that the parting message of patience and waiting for the right guy/girl at the right time is, while painfully obvious, something that a lot of the world probably needs reminding of. Because this movie could’ve been radioactively bad. Instead, it’s just kinda meh, with some moments that make it stand a head over the deluge of crappy rom coms that we get on a monthly basis. I’m not sure how big a compliment that is, but it’s a compliment, which I think is an accomplishment for this movie no matter how you look at it.

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2 Responses to “He’s Just Not That Into You [movies]”
  1. SN says:

    Hey, whatever happened to your romcom roundup? Did you give it up, just like you gave up owning a pair of balls when you went to see this movie in the theatre? jk

  2. E says:

    My source of movies went south. So rom com went on hold, and then I realized that I did indeed, have balls. Sadly, ’twas never meant to be.

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