He's Just Not That Into You

Director    Ken Kwapis
Starring    Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck, Ginnifer Goodwin, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly
Release    6 FEB (US) 6 FEB (UK)    Certificate 12A
2 stars


8th February 2009

This shamefully sappy, overly-long romantic odyssey, based on a self-help book of the same name, promises to subvert rom-com clich� and burst wide open the so-called 'rules' of dating etiquette. The movie opens with the shocking revelation that boys who push you down in the playground really like you. The rest of the film, despite being populated by fully-grown adults who should know better, is honestly no less immature.

He's Just Not That Into You is a basic collection of interweaving stories based around the romance - of the lack thereof - in the lives of a group of urban, good-looking, affluent Baltimore hepcats. (Can't you just feel the bile rising in the back of your throat already?). There's Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) who can't seem to find the right guy; there's Ben (Bradley Cooper), who finds his head turned by flirtatious singer Anna (Scarlett Johansson) despite the fact he's married to Janine (Jennifer Connelly); there's long-term couple Beth and Neil (Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck) who can't agree on marriage. The fact that the all-seeing, all-knowing wise epicentre of the movie is played by Justin Long - the hacker geek from Die Hard 4.0 - should give you an indication of exactly who this is pitched at.

For a movie that claims to expose the myths of relationships, He's Just Not That Into You sure feels familiar. This is partly due to unadventurous casting. Drew Barrymore as a ditz? Jennifer Aniston as a doomed romantic? Scarlett Johansson as a flirt? The lack of depth isn't surprising, given the source material; characters' actions function as insultingly basic answers to questions about which everyone should already know. Needless to say, most of us figured out the 'rules' of dating around the time we stopped flicking spitballs at pretty girls in double Maths. Act like a dick, you get what you deserve. Be charming, cool and funny and Bob's your uncle. He's Just Not That Into You takes that basic rule of life and stretches it gossamer thin over two hours.

There's little humour to be gleaned from what's actually a rather sour-faced rom-com, with precious little rom and even less com. For all the movie's agonising over the rules of dating - should she call? Is he sending her signals? etc. - there's still nothing to touch the sheer awkward beauty of the answer phone scene in Swingers: the perfect storm of embarrassment. What's more, the tone swings wildly from serious to silly, most evident when a tense heart attack scene cuts straight to a raucous party. When one character has a breakdown, titters of nervous laughter will be heard from the audience, unsure whether to chuckle or play concerned. The biggest laugh I got was seeing the name 'Michael Disco' in the credits. (Yes, his name is Mr. Disco. I can only assume he loves to party).

It's not that sensible characters suddenly perform emotional last-reel U-turns in the name of love. It's not that the movie spends around half an hour tying up all the loose ends in a neat little bow. It's not that the cast seem to have been hired on the size of their jawline (between Aniston, Barrymore, Connelly and Affleck, there's more chin here than a Chinese phone book). He's Just Not That Into You is just insultingly average in every way, spending 129 minutes telling us what we already know: girls and boys don't always click.

In fact, the difference between genders was perfectly illustrated by the cross-section of people attending my screening. During the movie's overwrought ending (complete with Keane soundtrack, natch) I took a glance around to see if anyone was actually buying it. The women were all sobbing into tissues, bottom lips trembling. The men? Fidgeting awkwardly and looking towards the exits. I could spend two hours explaining why that's that's the case, but I'll credit you with enough intelligence and leave it at that.

Follow us on Twitter @The_Shiznit for more fun features, film reviews and occasional commentary on what the best type of crisps are.
We are using Patreon to cover our hosting fees. So please consider chucking a few digital pennies our way by clicking on this link. Thanks!

Share This