He’s Just Not That Into You Directed by: Ken Kwapis Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper Time: 2 hrs, 3 minutes Rating: PG-13
Plot: A story centered on several loosely related adults struggling to make sense of the fusion between love and legal binding. Their collective pursuit of happiness involves not only the search for a soul mate, but the pitfalls lovers can run into when they’re not being up front about how they feel, or what they’re feeling.
Who’s It For?: Those who can stomach a ceaseless innuendo of insinuation rather than full-on linguistic combat. In other words, you have to believe that love is based on the “games” people play in order to woo one another. Love’s all about saying things, just never exactly what you mean, right? Honestly, this is a “chick flick” for guys.
Expectations: You’d have to run a fairly unimpressive comb through Hollywood to not find an of-the-moment actor who was not cast in He’s Just Not That Into You. Illinois-native Ken Kwapis has worked on such critically-acclaimed T.V. shows like The Office, and Freaks and Geeks. The chips were all in the pot, and there was little doubt this film would be at least marginally affective.
Ginnifer Goodwin as Gigi: Since her off-putting portrayal of Johnny Cash’s first, forbearing wife in Walk the Line, Goodwin’s star has been on the rise. Her fresh-face, and cute-girl-from-the-coffee-house aura is perfect for the character of Gigi. As a love-obsessed girl who’s perpetually unlucky in love, her subtle talents are on full display. The initial clueless, blind allegiance to the idea of soul mates, and daft awkwardness with which she exudes a bubbling enthusiastic pursuit of broken-hearted plight are fantastically nuanced character-traits Goodwin masterfully pulls from her arsenal. Score: 8
Justin Long as Alex: It’s difficult to believe Long is thirty. His boyish demeanor, matched with a youthful complexion, and gawky grin have confined the actor to college-humor comedies easily written off as C-list Hollywood swill. As Alex, it’s as if he’s finally ridden himself of this sort of cocoon. Though he may never carry a film on his back, Long’s way with a line, and everyman characteristics make Alex a believable character who’d rather keep love at arm’s length, and harmless one-night stands as the norm. Score: 7
Scarlett Johansson as Anna: It’s nice to see the “it” actress of 2004 step up to the present day, rather than dive back into a timepiece in which her timeless features could stand in for the acting chops she showed us in Ghost World, or Lost in Translation. It’s rare when a bombshell can visually identify with a girl who can fall for a man just out of her reach. Though Anna is not much of a stretch for the impossibly talented Johansson, we do get to see a great actress try to squeeze her gorgeous feet into a normal girl’s shoes. The trouble is, she’s too attractive to pass for a young woman as self-consciously pensive as Anna. Score: 6
Bradley Cooper as Ben: Cooper’s spent the better part of his career slipping into roles that help audiences take their focus off the leads when the time is great. This is what great character actors can do, and Cooper’s done it well many times. Though this isn’t a lead role, it’s certainly a featured one, and he reminds us why he’s one of the most promising young actors in Hollywood. If his performance as Ben is any indication, we may have another Mark Ruffalo-esque leading man breaking out into A-list territory. Score: 9
Talking: I have admit I feel a hint of jealously when I see a film that doesn’t sound as if it were working from a script. Great screenwriting is accomplished when the onscreen discourse between actors doesn’t sound rehearsed, cliché, or boring. This is a film that keeps you on your toes because all conversations sound natural, and taken from normal peoples lives. Films used to be made about impossibly grandiose individuals who may as well have been Demi-Gods. This is a film about real people with real problems, and everything they say sounds like relatable insecurities. Score: 9
Sights: Shot in Baltimore, which looks like a slew of stock footage from any old cityscape that doesn’t remind you of any over done, romantic setting you’d find in New York, or Paris. This is a story about regular people, and Baltimore stands in as a very regular city. Score: 7
Sounds: The soundtrack boasts a nice mesh of old standards [The Cure, The Replacements] with newer acts [My Morning Jacket (ahem), Scarlett Johansson]. It won’t jump off the shelves like Zach Braff’s perfectly orchestrated Garden State compilation, but it’s a suitable collection of background music for a film where the silent moments have just as much impact as the emotional scenes. Score: 7
Best Scene: When Ben admits he’s cheated on Janine [Jennifer Connelly]… in a Home Depot. She thinks its because he knows how she hates making a scene in public. It’s a fantastically realistic moment of horror within a once-seamless picture of married glee.
Ending: Definitely not a Hollywood ending. These people knew how to make a movie that couldn’t possibly have had a happy ending. You’ll ironically leave happy as a result.
Questions: Why is Ben Affleck back in front of the camera? Gone Baby Gone was so good, and his acting… so bad.
Rewatchability: Will be a must-addition to your DVD collection. Not sure if it’s worth purchasing on Blu-Ray. What is “Blu-Ray” anyway?
Everyone wants to see this film. Most of you will be pleased with yourselves for wanting to see a film as quality as this one. It’s nice to see a filmmaker throw together a film without trying to change people’s minds about the state of love and marriage. Nothing is sugarcoated, and all issues touched upon have been talked about by many a married couple, or group of single-friends. It’s more a relief for people to see their own insecurities on full silver-screen display than anything else. It helps them maintain their sanity while (still) trying to find love in all the wrong places. If you learn anything from watching He’s Just Not That Into You it’s that you are never as happy as you think, and you’re always far luckier than you could ever imagine. It’s the chances we take that potentially screw everything up—and that’s the beauty about love.
Final Score: 8/10