Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) likes real estate salesman Connor (Kevin Connolly) who is stuck on semi-girlfriend Anna (Scarlett Johansson) who likes Ben (Bradley Cooper) who has to, understandably, struggle with his attraction to her and staying faithful to his wife, Janine (Jennifer Connelly) who works with Beth (Jennifer Aniston), who is getting more and more neurotic that long-time boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) refuses to get married. And Drew Barrymore pops up now and then. You might want to draw a chart.
Even if you didn’t know its history, the film’s pedigree is obvious. It’s one of those twenty/thirty-something relationship dramedies where everyone is still young and stylish and not tied down enough by real life that they can spend a lot of time going out to parties and dinners and what not, and not with mortgages and kids and the day-to-day grind. It’s a primetime soap, condensed down to 129 minutes, with the dead neighbors and abusive husbands cut out. Surface oriented doesn’t really begin to cover it, but light entertainment is fine. Light being the operative word, and lacking strong plot dynamics, it’s the chemistry and charm of the cast that puts any sort of drama into the situations, which tend to be about as surprising as you’d expect.
Luckily, the cast is quite charming. Everyone’s been cast to type and it works, often instilling the material with a level of interest it doesn’t really warrant. The love triangle between Anna, Ben, and Janine is actually quite compelling and extremely well paced. There’s very little in it that feels false of unsatisfying, at least until the end. It’s pretty obvious where it’s going from the beginning (every storyline is), but the getting there isn’t half bad. The only bump in the road is Gigi and Alex (Justin Long), a local bar owner who decides to help stop her downward spiral of raised and dashed hopes by explaining the nature of men to her and what their signals really mean. Hollywood is what it is and everyone in their movies is by design preternaturally attractive, but still, it is all but impossible to believe any man would ever blow off Ginnifer Goodwin. Not in the world Gigi’s supposed to live in. But she’s so charming and fun to watch; for the most part that’s a gimmie. On the other hand, Justin Long, as hard as he tries, is horribly miscast as worldly, womanizing Alex. He’s just too naturally fresh-faced and earnest, and can’t seem to overcome it.
The movie falls apart a bit in the end, which goes on far too long, but for the most part it works. Director Ken Kwapis (“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) has done this sort of thing before and handles his cast and material with a light enough hand that it never becomes too self-important to sit through, even when it starts to verge on a screed. There is a definite undercurrent of woman’s world view versus man’s world view running throughout, and there’s no doubt who’s coming out on top of that here. Despite both the book and screenplay being co-written by men, there is a profound lack of balance in the characterization. The male characters are entirely women’s version of men, the kind that populate Lifetime movies, which makes the movie really hard for any man to take seriously.
All that being said, “He’s Just Not That Into You” goes by surprisingly quickly, except for the last ten minutes or so, mainly because of the cast and on the basis of that alone I give it a cautious thumb up. Your men folk will be bored out of their minds, but you’ve dragged them to worse. It’s about as good as one of these types of movies is going to get. And since the whole thing is about advice to women on men let me give some; never take relationship advice from anything even remotely connected to Candace Bushnell.