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He's Just Not That Into You Review

Gigi loves Conor. Conor’s holding out for Anna. Anna’s dating Ben who’s married to Janine. Janine works with Gigi, Mary and Beth. Beth lives with Neil, Ben’s friend, who refuses to marry because he doesn’t believe in the concept. Meanwhile, Gigi consults Alex, Conor’s friend, on the secrets of what men really mean when they say enigmatic things like “I’ll call you.” If all of that sounds like the convoluted plot of a soap opera, you’re half right. What it is is the road map of He’s Just Not That Into You as it explores, somewhat shallowly, the twisting winding road of relationships.

Even as the other characters get a few minutes worth of detours each, the film primarily follows Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) as she receives crash course lessons from Alex (Justin Long) who takes her under his wing when he finds her desperately pining after Conor (Kevin Connolly) when he doesn’t call her back as promised. The information Alex peddles isn’t rocket science – in fact, any man or woman with even a modicum of social experience gleans the lessons that Gigi apparently missed. In presenting the film as a textbook of sorts with title cards and thematic issues in each relationship, the film makes the simpler points while neglecting those which are more complex.

The film presents each gender in a very monochromatic light. The women are all hyper-emotional head cases while the men are all lecherous and non-committal bastards to one degree or another. Even when characters range from every shade of gray, the fact remains that it’s all just gray. It could be argued that the characters are all proportionately shallow to meet the needs of half-baked romance stories with no other objective than to glibly comment on the current state of American romance. Is it news that e-mail, text messaging and chat rooms have changed the way relationships are formed in today’s culture? No. Is it all that revelatory that men and women have different expectations in communication? Again, no. The film comes on like it’s enlightening audiences when it’s doing little more than preaching to a media-saturated choir. What’s even more maddening? Certain threads from the film have been covered in more detailed and intimate caliber – He’s Just Not That Into You is little more than the diet version of better romantic comedies.

The relationship of Ben (Bradley Cooper) and Janine (Jennifer Connelly) coupled with that of Beth (Jennifer Aniston) and Neil (Ben Affleck) could have made for a much deeper and meaningful explanation of relationships. Considering the two male leads are almost identical in silver screen sex appeal and their characters represent the two polar ends of the male opinions on marriage, creating a comparison piece between the two men could make for a compelling drama. But He’s Just Not That Into You treats each relationship with a very light touch and never dips too far in for fear of seeming off-balance (even though it already tilts excessively in Gigi’s favor). An example of a film which took this plot and put it to better use? Trust the Man. Furthermore, you could argue that the David Duchovny, Julianne Moorer, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup cast does the story justice.

The hi-def presentation of He’s Just Not That Into You looks beautiful, and the audio gets a crystal clear mastering – but these things do little to distract from the film’s glossy approach to a situation that needs a deeper examination. It’s not the worst romantic comedy to debut in recent years, but you could do better.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

After the digital copy of the film and the BD-Live features to be found online, the Blu-ray disc itself has a sparse offering of extra features outside the traditional additional scenes collection. First there’s a featurette where the actors from the film give 2-4 minute bits in character talking about their relationships as a couple or as a bachelor or bachelorette. It feels like you’re watching the actors get into character before a real scene – it’s not all that interesting, but it’s there for those of you who’ve found a bible in this film. Furthering the “film as a social bible” theme, director Ken Kwapis and the writers talk about the film’s origin as a simple line of dialogue in Sex and the City and its evolution into a full-blown social phenomenon. Hearing them talk about it you’d swear it was the deepest idea ever embodied on the silver screen. Finally, Kwapis carries on a little bit more about his brilliance as a director in using traditional film devices to further the film’s plot. Again, he hasn’t done anything new but hearing him talk about it you’d swear he was a pioneer.

"He's Just Not That Into You" is on sale June 2, 2009 and is rated PG13. Comedy, Drama, Romance. Directed by Ken Kwapis. Written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein. Starring Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Long, Kevin Connolly, Scarlett Johansson.

Jun
07
2009
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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