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Pretty Crappy: 38.1%

2 reviews, 9 user ratings

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He's Just Not That Into You
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by Peter Sobczynski

"It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Chick Flick"
1 stars

The women in “He’s Just Not That Into You”--and there are a lot of them--are constantly fretting about why it is so impossible for them to be able to find men who can appreciate just how unique and special they and who are willing to accept all of their whims and eccentricities while sacrificing their own for the greater good of the relationship. Granted, I am no relationship counselor by any means but I think I may have the answer.: it just might be that all the women on display are boring, shallow, self-absorbed twits who have precious little charm outside of the physical, seem to have no other thoughts or concerns other than landing or keeping a man and who display personality traits that will remind most viewers of Rupert Pupkin or Travis Bickle instead of Holly Golightly. Of course, since this is so-called chick flick, such character attributes will no doubt be considered as positives in the minds of its target audience and they will no doubt find themselves embracing the film wholeheartedly while everyone else is left squirming in their seats and trying desperately to understand why they are supposed to be finding these characters to be amusing and sympathetic when all the available audience would suggest otherwise.

Based on the self-improvement book (warning flag #1) by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo that was apparently inspired by an episode of “Sex and the City” (warning flag #2) and went on to become a best-seller after being featured on “Oprah” (warning sign #3), the film uses a multiple storyline format to follow the romantic calamities of a number of loosely connected denizens of that hotbed of seething lust known as Baltimore. For example, Beth (Jennifer Aniston) informs longtime boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) that it is time for them to get married even though he has told her for years that he has no interest in doing such a thing. In response, she instantly kicks him to the curb and finds herself out in the dating world fending off weirdoes like the seemingly normal guy who turns out to be a Wiccan. (Actually, since he professes to be a male witch, I think he means to refer to himself as a warlock--if I am incorrect on this, please feel free to not send in long missives explaining my error in minute detail.) Her co -worker, Janine (Jennifer Connelly) seems to be happily married to Ben (Bradley Cooper) but appearances turn out to be deceiving--she is upset that he no longer seems attracted to her and, even worse, appears to have taken up smoking again in direct violation of her orders for him to quit. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that Ben is struggling with the temptation poised by Anna (Scarlett Johansson), an aspiring singer who aggressively sets her sights on him even though she knows fully well that he is married. Then there is Anna’s friend Mary (Drew Barrymore), who finds herself constantly stymied by the technological developments that are theoretically supposed to bring people together--a date leaves the wrong message on her voicemail and her posse of gay pals informs her that meeting someone via MySpace is the modern equivalent of a booty call. (Okay, maybe not that modern--the use of a MySpace joke is one indicator that yes, this film has been sitting on a shelf for a while.)

The most elaborate storyline is the one that focuses on Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), a co-worker of Beth and Janine, and her desperate attempts to find love and lay claim to the title of the American Bridget Jones. As the film opens, she is on a date with slick real estate agent Conor (Kevin Connolly) and while it fairly obvious to most impartial viewers that it is not a particularly successful one, she somehow deludes herself into thinking that they have a bright future together and cannot understand why he won’t respond to her incessant voice mails and text messages. Finally, while flat-out stalking him at a bar he frequents, she meets up with one of his friends, Alex (Justin Long), and he finally breaks it to her that Conor has no interest in her and points out all the warning signs that she really should have noticed. After that, she begins to use Alex to analyze all of her future dates (sometimes while they are still in progress) and eventually becomes convinced that he is the man for her, only to be crushed when it turns out that she has once again misread the signs. As Freud never quite got around to saying, “Sometimes a request to make guacamole at a party is just a request to make guacamole.” Don’t fret--all of her delusions eventually pay off because if they didn’t, it might suggest that she might have done something wrong and there is no way that can possibly happen in a film like this.

Although “He’s Just Not That Into You” will no doubt be compared to any number of so-called chick flicks that have come out in the last few years, the film that I found myself comparing it to the most was, of all things, Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Like that 1963 epic, it utilizes a multiple storyline structure in which a large cast of well-known faces stumble about in myriad ways in the pursuit of a common goal--in this case, love and happiness instead of $350,000 hidden under a giant W. However, also like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” the film is way too long, not very funny and doesn’t really have anything interesting to say about its subject. Obviously, a self-help book is not going to provide a strong narrative on which to build a film upon but surely screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein could have come up with something better than stringing together a half-dozen half-baked rom-com premises in the hopes that the sheer number of separate plot lines will distract viewers enough so that no one notices that none of them are particularly compelling, either on an individual level or as part of the larger picture. Instead, we are given boring and retrograde stories that seem to have been torn directly from a few lesser episodes of “Love American Style” (a notion further underlined by Ken Kwapis’ utterly flat direction that seems more like bad TV than anything else) and which offer no fresh or amusing insights on contemporary dating procedures. The comedic elements are done in broad, sitcom-like strokes that come off especially badly when they rub shoulders against such serious elements as Janine’s failing marriage and the heart attack suffered by Beth’s father (played, in what may be the film’s funniest joke, by Kris Kristofferson).

Worst of all, the characters are as singularly unappealing a group of people as I can recall seeing in a single movie in recent times--at no time do any of them seem like the kind of smart and resourceful people that might have actually made a film of this type halfway palatable. How unappealing are they? They are so unappealing that this may be the first time that I have seen a movie where I wasn’t looking forward to seeing more of the likes of Drew Barrymore or Jennifer Connelly. They are so unappealing that Jennifer Aniston isn’t the most off-putting person on display. (That would be Ginnifer Goodwin, a good and likable actress stuck in a bad and unlikable role.) They are so unappealing, for the most part, that this may be the first movie in a long time where many viewers will leave the theater wishing that there had been more Ben Affleck. (To continue the “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” comparison, this would be like coming out of that movie wishing that you had seen more of Dorothy Provine.)

Although there is no earthly reason to sit through “He’s Just Not That Into You”--not even if you are a guy out on a date who volunteers to see it in the hopes of scoring some post-show brownie points--honesty compels me to mention that there are a couple of good things to say about it. For one, there are a few amusing moments scattered here and there--in the most notable example, Luis Guzman pops up in a cameo that pretty much steals the entire film. For another, even though it is unlikely that this film will be embraced by feminists as a new symbol of the cause, it never quite reaches the horribly stereotypical depths of such recent chick-flick atrocities as “Bride Wars” or “New in Town.” Finally, and most importantly from my perspective, the fact that it is finally out in theaters means that I will hopefully never again have to sit through its annoyingly omnipresent trailer again as long as I live or go to the movies.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17106&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/06/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

12/20/09 Cat How did this film get made? Its beyond sucky and I'm a woman. 1 stars
5/28/09 Pete Snot uffff, what did I just watch? 1 stars
3/21/09 james obrien i dont get this kind of film 3 stars
2/15/09 7 UP Girdle Not terrible, Riki Lake wannabees 2 stars
2/11/09 Ming I think this film is ok..not great. The plot is too simple 3 stars
2/10/09 Liz combed web for reviews that accurately address disappointment - your review by far best 2 stars
2/09/09 Aesop Best advice is to kill yourself before watching this. 1 stars
2/08/09 D AKA the book stupid sorority girls would read after getting dumped...AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE 1 stars
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  06-Feb-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 02-Jun-2009


  DVD: 02-Jun-2009

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