Sunday, June 14, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You is the catchy title of an updated Sex-in-the-City-type movie for young men and women. It traces five women and four men and their stories as they try to figure out the signals the opposite sex sends.

After dating a successful real estate agent, Gigi sits by the phone, waiting for his phone call. Because he said he would call. Alex, a nice but cynical barkeep, talks her through what men really mean when they say those throw-away lines. Janine and Ben seem to be happily married until Ben is tempted at the checkout counter by Anna. Neil and Beth have been together seven years when she realizes she wants marriage and he's not able to give that to her.

The segments seem quite disjointed when you realize that all the players are peripherally involved with each other, but not really (but really, who cares). The fractions of these 9 people's stories fit together to actually make a very funny, very satisfying movie.

Much of the film's success has to do with the fact that we like almost all of these people on the face of it; they all seem pleasant and are just trying to get through their lives in a most honest way. The other half of the film's success, though, is in the winning actors they've cast for these roles: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Ginnfer Goodwin, Justin Long, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper and Kevin Connolly. They make a lot of soup with the particles they've been given, and we happily join them for a segment of their lives.

And the stories are somewhat believable. Women are going to nod up and down as they watch Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) constantly screw up any relationship because she's so eager. And, if you can drag a man in to see this obvious chick flick, the men will nod slowly in appreciation of the fact that Ben (Bradley Cooper) isn't able to resist Scarlett Johansson's sexy character even though he has Jennifer Connelly in the wings.

And one woman, played by Drew Barrymore, gets many of the funniest lines. It's too bad she's in it so little.

So many recent comedies are heavy handed and don't work on many levels. This one works on most: it's funny, it's empathic, it feels real.

Thumb's up.


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