He’s Just Not That Into You hates women.
It’s a loaded statement, but it’s true. Based on the book meant to help women decipher men’s mixed messages (most of them being that they are really not that into you), the cinematic version, in theaters this Friday, is full of unsympathetic characters and underdeveloped story lines. This is not the postmodern feminist manifesto it aspires to be.
The women in this film are broad stereotypes and one imagines that female audience members are supposed to choose one with whom they can identify. Have two x-chromosomes? You can either be the pathetic aggressor (Ginnifer Goodwin) who can’t take a hint, the shrill harpy (Jennifer Connelly) who terrifies her husband, the nag (Jennifer Aniston) or the home-wrecking seductress (Scarlett Johansson) who doesn’t care about the marriage she helps destroy. Each attempt at character development reads like a laundry list of what women, as a whole, are doing wrong. According to the film, there’s a lot.
The men, though certainly no better, are treated with a “boys will be boys” attitude and only Ben Affleck’s patient boyfriend emerges intact from the wreckage of this failed film. His major character flaw? He’s afraid to commit. That’s better than Kevin Connolly’s oblivious real estate agent character, or Bradley Cooper’s despicable adulterous husband persona.
The acting is fine nearly across the board (Johansson and Aniston, true to form, keep it from attaining a perfect score) and, for once, Baltimore is very attractive, but it’s just not a very good movie. It’s hard to elicit sympathy for any of these characters and the film is almost painful when women notice bits of their own behavior onscreen. A two-hour-long, introspective look at one’s own relationship-related faults and flaws, this supposed romantic comedy is neither romantic nor very funny. The book is a modern classic; the sooner the film version is forgotten, the better. The major theme of the film seems to be “love hurts,” and you know what? Love Actually did it better.
Rating: 1.5/4 stars