Movie Review: He's Just Not That Into You
By Matthew Huntley
February 13, 2009
Just before my girlfriend and I saw He's Just Not That Into You, we discussed how women, probably by nature, are prone to drama. They seem drawn to crises, perhaps on a subconscious level. I know I'm making a gross generalization here, but in my experience, women sometimes make things overly complicated, which isn't to say men don't, but it seems more common for females. Maybe women think applying drama to a situation will make it more interesting and exciting. They're probably right.
Coincidentally, a scene takes place in He's Just Not That Into You where a guy tells a girl that women overreact, pace nervously back and forth, and get upset over trivial things (like waiting until the last minute to pay a phone bill) because they like the drama that comes with it. I don't consider myself an expert on women, far from it, but given that my girlfriend and I already had this same conversation before the movie, I felt like I already knew what this guy was talking about. Hearing it onscreen didn't necessarily offer further insight.
That is sort of my problem with He's Just Not That Into You - it's a comedy-drama that doesn't really offer any piercing knowledge about relationships that most people haven't already gathered from personal experience. It reiterates a lot of what we already know, and I guess it's comforting to think we're not alone in our thoughts, but I wish the screenplay by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, based on the self-help book by Greg Berhendt and Liz Tuccillo, worked beyond its simplistic, "relationships 101" theories and became a tighter, more personal story for its characters.
Speaking of characters, there are a lot of them - perhaps too many. To start the movie off, Conor (Kevin Connolly) has just gone out on a date with Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin). Immediately after, he calls his former flame, Anna (Scarlett Johansson), and asks for a nightcap. He tells his friend Alex (Justin Long) the date went okay - "You know, whatever" - while Gigi giddily calls her best friend Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and tells her she thinks Conor really likes her.
Anna, who was in the grocery store when Conor called, meet-cutes Ben (Bradley Cooper), who's married to Janine (Gigi's best friend, remember?). Ben tells his friend Neil (Ben Affleck) it's okay for him to make friends with a hot girl like Anna, while Anna tells her friend Mary (Drew Barrymore) she's crazy about this new guy with the "killer smile" and a butt that makes her want to...never mind. Neil lives with Beth (Jennifer Aniston), his girlfriend of seven years, but he doesn't believe in marriage. Beth, who works with Gigi and Janine, feels left out of the marriage circle now that her little sister is tying the knot.
[Catching breath] Okay, now that you know who the characters are, I can tell you director Ken Kwapis does a fair job of balancing the multiple conflicts so that each one finds screen time and resolution. He does a fair job, yes, but I think the screenplay should have dropped the Conor and Mary characters since their stories seem less important and fluffier in the grand scheme of things. Mary only seems to spout out epigrams about modern pop culture while Conor doesn't do much after serving as the catalyst for Gigi's story. After that, it's like the writers ran out of meaningful (or funny) things for him to do. Conor is a real estate agent and I wasn't amused by his subplot to try and corner the gay community.