Sunday, February 15, 2009

"The Texter" Totally Just Texted Me

He's Just Not That Into You:
2 ½ out of 4

Basically, I was more into He's Just Not That Into You than I thought I ever would be. Yeah, I said it. Taken from a self-help book of the same name, the movie is overly self-conscious of this fact and is segmented into chapters that really don't properly correlate with the order of things unfolding on-screen. It's a wholly unnecessary gimmick as each chapter opens with fake interviews asking various people off the street their opinion on what to do in situations such as, "...When he's just not calling you." The moral of the entire thing boils down to this: If the guy likes you, he's going to make the effort. If he doesn't, well, then you won't hear from him. Simple as that. And yet the movie, while not perfect, takes such seemingly obvious revelations and spins them into a surprisingly engaging experience.

There is an all-star cast of actresses, and each woman has their own personal story told in a series of small, comic vignettes. And among all these women, along with the men they're trying to understand, there is at least one person who knows another to keep them all loosely connected in a social networking web. Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), who narrates the movie, is down on her luck. She's a big-hearted and eager girl who's also just a little too naive. She's frantic on dates with guys and gets lost in the conundrum of who's supposed to call first. She paces around watching her home phone and, when she's out, flips open her cell every couple minutes to see if she missed a call. She turns to a sly bartender named Alex (Justin Long) for advice to dealing with her own relentless desperation, describing all different types of signs and signals she swears she picked up from the guy.

Mary (Drew Barrymore) finds herself in a similar situation as she is lost in the world of cyber-dating and only surrounds herself with her co-workers, all of whom are stereotypically gay men with no real world advice to supply. To perfect her image, she doesn't change herself, but rather, updates her profile page. Beth (Jennifer Aniston) has been with Neil (Ben Affleck) for seven years and has yet to be proposed to, and it's not that Neil doesn't love her, he just hates the idea of marriage. Beth isn't satisfied without a ring on her finger. Janine (Jennifer Connelly) is married to Ben (Bradley Cooper) and is in the middle of renovating their new home. She ends up taking out her marital frustration through the project. Their marriage has lost its original spark. Then there's Anna (Scarlett Johansson) who is persistently courted by Conor (Kevin Connolly), except she has an infatuation with a married man who she met in line at the grocery.

Aniston and Affleck are convincing as a couple, Connelly showcases a believable portrait of a control freak, and Johansson works her lips and curves in a painfully one-dimensional role. The true revelations of the movie are Ginnifer and Barrymore who both admit what a lot of people probably secretly think to themselves about over-analyzing and dissecting every dating situation. Barrymore has the least amount of lines in the movie but also the best. In one strikingly humorous and relatable monologue, she complains about all of the different technologies she has to check just to be denied by the same guy through all of them. She longs for the simple days when everybody had just one phone and one answering machine.

There are a lot of separate story lines to follow, but the benefit of this is that once you get bored with watching one, the scene will quickly shift over to another. The most charming of situations is Gigi's, and it's hers that the movie rightfully spends the most time focusing on. It's through her dilemmas that the movie makes rather sharp and witty commentary on the status of relationships and dating in the technology-oriented society we live in now. The only real problem with He's Just Not That Into You is its impulsive need to provide the audience with an obligatory happy ending. Each subplot gets nicely tied up in the end in its own way, and it works as a cop-out that lies to reassure women that, look at that, it turns out he is just that into you.

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