HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (2009)
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Kris Kristofferson, Leonardo Nam, Bill Brochtrup and Busy Philipps.
Screenplay by Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn.
Directed by Ken Kwapis.
Distributed by New Line Cinema. 129 minutes. Rated PG-13.
It seems like a good sell to get some of the biggest names in Hollywood as well as some of the hot up-and-comers to take smallish ensemble roles in this good-hearted romantic comedy.
There are nine major characters in He’s Just Not That Into You – all intriguing roles and yet some are under-explored. (Drew Barrymore’s character in particular feels like an afterthought.) Yet big stars like Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Connelly slip into their roles with a complete lack of ego. This extraordinarily deep cast gives this sweet Valentine perhaps a little more gravitas than the charming-but-slight script deserves.
Remember the old J. Geils Band “Love Stinks” couplet, “You love her, but she loves him, and he loves somebody else, you just can’t win.”? Well, add a few more spokes to the equation and you have He’s Just Not That into You. It’s all about missed connections and characters who look for love in the wrong places. In fact, in the loosely connected group of nine Baltimore single 30-somethings – about six are unsuccessfully involved with one of the others while they should be involved with a different one.
Named after a snarky modern romance guide, the film – like the book – is extremely wise about the differing agendas and methods that men and women use in the mating process. Also like the book, the film is much more hopelessly romantic than it would like to let on.
Probably the breakthrough characters are some of the lesser-known actors. Ginnifer Goodwin essentially has the closest to what could be considered a leading role here – playing Gigi, a cute and funny loser magnet who constantly over-analyzes and sabotages her relationships because she is so desperate for love that she will explain away most any slight or mistreatment coming her way.
When she is sorta stalking a guy she met on a blind date (Kevin Connolly of Entourage) – she meets a smooth and confident bartender, played Justin Long – who has done several movies, but is still probably best known for his popular series of Mac commercials. He gives her slightly cynical advice from the other side – all the while not realizing that he’s falling for the kooky girl.
Goodwin and Long work against each other well, having honed their chemistry a few years ago as an on-again off-again high school nerd couple on the quirky TV drama Ed.
The other lesser known actor who shines is Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers, Kitchen Confidential) – though he has the not exactly impossible role of Ben – a man torn between his wife Janine (played by Jennifer Connelly) and the idea of an affair with a young, sexy singer named Anna (Scarlett Johansson). A choice between Connelly and Johansson – that’s a bit of wish-fulfillment there. Still, his character of Ben has to do some relatively reprehensible things and together with Johansson he is the closest this film comes to a villain character.
Anna, while considering the affair with the married man, is stringing along Conor – a smitten real estate agent… who just happened to be the blind date who started Gigi’s self-reflection. Barrymore plays a woman who is flummoxed by the intricacies of modern courtship – texting, email, MySpace, video chats. She’s also Anna’s best friend and has a professional relationship with Conor. It all gets a little incestuous in the world of He’s Just Not Into You.
The only two characters that sort of stand alone here are Beth (Jennifer Aniston) and Neil (Ben Affleck) – at least relationship-wise they are separate from the fray, though she works with Janine and Gigi and he is Ben’s best friend. They are a couple who has been together for seven years and she wants to get married, but he doesn’t.
I’m not 100% sure that the movie is quite worthy of its star-studded cast, however I am glad that they all did this sweet and amiable little movie. It is particularly nice to see Jennifer Connelly doing some lighter comic fare again after spending the last decade or so in some rather extremely dark films.
Nothing greatly earthshaking happens in the movie – and it ends running a little too long – and yet it is an insightful, funny and charming look at the modern battle of the sexes.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 1, 2009.