He’s Just Not That into You

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

          “He’s Just Not That into You” may not be the worst picture of the year, but it certainly is a contender for worst title. Does anything about that title beckon you to the multiplex? Do you respond to it as you did, say, to “Seabiscuit,” or “Don Juan in Hell,” or “Casablanca?” 

          The unfathomable question is why anyone would pour buckets of money and energy into20such an obviously silly venture. But they did. Looking for the positive, there are three out-loud laughs; the movie is fun for a few minutes – no more than a few – while it considers the new tools and rules of dating. The tools: cell phones, answering machines, email, social networking sites. The rules: when a man says, “I’ll call you,” it means good-bye. Don’t call him under any circumstances. It’s over. When meeting a new man, instead of changing your hair, reprogram your profile. 
          This raises the question of why in the ninth year of the new century an entire movie is built on the premise that the primary purpose of a woman’s life is to snare a man and persuade him to marry her. A woman who spends her twenties in hot pursuit is a forlorn image. Can she ever love a job or explore friendships on the way to the part luck, part hard work of marriage to the perfect man? In addition to the premise, this movie revolves around a large group of indistinguishable airheads. Here’s who. 

          Gigi is an aggressive nitwit. Alex is a bartending social networking advisor to women. Conor is a marriage cheat, Anna a temptress, Ben a bored husband, Janine a neurotic wife. Neil has a phobia about commitment and Beth wants only to be married. These people are played variously by Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly, Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, and Jennifer Aniston. Any one of the actors could have played any one of the characters which isn’t saying much for any of them. 

          Gigi wants Conor, Connor wants Anna, Janine wants Ben, and Beth wants Neil. Not one of the men or women on screen has the spark or charm that might make us root for them. They are just an undefined bunch of featherheads who will probably be no more interesting when they are fifty. Ginnifer Goodwin’s Gigi is dense to the messages of the system; Scarlett Johansson’s Anna is a genuinely unappealing empty vessel; and perhaps most notable of all, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston, who have each carried movies on their own, are here as part of a weak ensemble cast trapped in a genuinely awful movie. Credit each of these two with wearing a slight air of embarrassment. At least they seem to know what they’ve done.

          Although I don’t think the problem here is generational, in the interest of fairness I should say that I am not sixteen.


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