REVIEW: He’s Just Not That Into You [2009]

“You’re my exception”

Longtime television director, and top dog of some movies I’m sure he’d like to forget about, Ken Kwapis’ new film He’s Just Not That Into You seemed to be that rare romantic comedy that offered enough plot and insight to interest both sexes. All about a group of guys and girls in their late twenties to late thirties—who are, in the most convenient way, connected to each other by someone in the group—it shows their successes and failures at love. Based on a popular novel, I’d be interested to know if they all held these connections there too, or if characters were combined and moved around for ease at adapting. Either way, it does work, as long as you forget that whole unwritten rule about dating your best friend’s ex. That rule surely doesn’t apply here, and really, why should it at all? If the film shows us anything, it’s that we find love in strange and unusual places, oftentimes discovering it when you least expect it.

The cast is all-star filled with high-powered celebrity. Mostly showcasing a new rising crop of performers like Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long, Bradley Cooper, and Kevin Connolly coming into their own as stars, the addition of stalwarts Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, and Jennifer Aniston help support it. Yeah, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson are also included, but I’m not a big fan of them. Thankfully, Barrymore is barely seen and Johansson plays sexy well if not still always coming off as more immature than anything else, but to each his own. What it all comes down to is the fact that they all pretty much become their character. I never started thinking about Ben and Jen, but instead Neil and Beth, because each actor has such an ensemble role to play that no one ever steals the spotlight … the true star is the story and the heartbreaking reality that you can relate to each and every one of them. So many cringe-worthy moments accompany the laughter at how true it all is; the cast puts it all on the table nakedly for you to relive every relationship you’ve had and the absolutely crazy things your friends have said to help you through it.

If I were to single out any one character as the “star”, it would be Goodwin’s Gigi. This girl is the most outrageous stereotype there could be, yet, while I hated her idiocy in the trailer, I grew to really like her innocence and honesty. Always making the wrong move, always being that crazy stalker girl, she never showed fear at putting herself out there to crash and burn. You have to respect that. Gigi is at the middle of the action, co-worker and friend with Connelly and Aniston while also delving into the world of Long’s bar-owner Alex and his womanizing ways. The more subtle trials and tribulations occur around her front-and-center shenanigans, which, while seemingly a continuous series of brain farts, will most likely be all too close for comfort with your own memories. Goodwin has the angelic naivete to pull it off though. She is both needy and trusting, yet loving despite all the pain she experiences—ever optimistic about life. Sometimes you want to slap her in the face and wake her to reality, but at the same time you hope she finally finds the right guy.

As far as that slap in the face, though, Justin Long is my favorite part of the movie. He knows what kind of guy he is and he knows all the tricks and games both sides play. His candidness with Gigi is refreshingly honest and pulls back the curtain of the man’s playbook of dating. I mean, really, if a guy isn’t calling, he’s not interested; sometimes you just have to move on and realize that if he didn’t want you, why should you want him? And that goes both ways guys. It is a moment like him telling Gigi to run from a date while she calls him from the bathroom because he said he’d be going out of town. Long’s insight is spot-on and the hesitation from the date when asked where he is going is priceless. But even the mighty must fall at some point. Numb to the powers of love for so long, even the one with all the answers sometimes needs to be slapped back to reality so he can see what’s right in front of him.

All the storylines have some redeemable qualities as you watch and remember the times you were in the same situation. From Connelly’s driven-to-be-married wife that becomes more mother than lover; to Bradley Cooper’s guilted husband that wants out but is too afraid to leave, (honestly, him telling his wife he cheated on her was not brave as she later says, it’s the complete opposite, delving into cowardice so that she can slap him and leave, thus allowing him to not be the one to end it, despite the fact he cheated); to Connolly’s used soul strung along by the woman he loves because she knows he’ll be there when she needs him although she has never, ever been there for him; to the true love between Affleck and Aniston despite them being together for seven years and not engaged. Honestly, if you are committed to each other why must you prove it to the world with a giant spectacle? However, the opposite holds true as well since how hard is it to just make it legal and not care in order to be with the woman you love? Their story was my favorite, yet its conclusion left a lot to be desired.

(**spoilers** Affleck would be the romantic great guy if he proposed and went against his principles for the woman he loved before they broke up. By waiting to bend his rules until after she throws hers out the window is a prick move and subverts the “happiness” his proposal shows. If you’re going to step up to the plate, do it before it becomes a need to answer her selflessness, because an act of selflessness performed due to guilt becomes even more selfish than not doing it at all. **end spoilers**)

In the end, I really enjoyed my time in this world—especially viewing with two girls that kept laughing at moments they related to both being involved in with each other before; that shows how universal the problems and successes are. Even the short fourth wall-breaking documents that follow each “chapter heading” hold relevance along with levity. There is a lot of truth in He’s Just Not That Into You, but I’m sure, even if you watch and realize the errors of your ways, you’ll still do the same things over again. Love just makes people crazy … but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

He’s Just Not That Into You 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

photography:
[1] JUSTIN LONG stars as Alex and GINNIFER GOODWIN stars as Gigi in New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Darren Michaels
[2] BRADLEY COOPER stars as Ben and SCARLETT JOHANSSON stars as Anna in New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy New Line Cinema

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