With a large cast of mostly known names, He’s Just Not That Into You
(HJNTIY) promises to be an anti-love story
; a romantic tale without the romance. Unfortunately unlike The Break Up which managed to do what it promised, HJNTIY manages to contradict itself throughout and enjoy doing so.
Richard Curtis (with Love Actually
) managed to take an ensemble cast and make an intermingled story intriguing. Can HJNTIY manage to do the same and still maintain a level of interest for the viewer though?
The Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story arcs deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behaviour.
Beginning with a failed date, the tale of HJNTIY expands out to its multi-faceted cast to tell us a range of stories all based around one single theme. It then proceeds to add weight to the argument that women are no good at determining men’s signals. It finishes with all of the arguments supporting the fact that women are incapable of reading male signals by throwing all of them in the bin (the arguments, not the characters).
So Ben Affleck
gets moaned at, Bradley Cooper
gets stalked and has various people trying to get busy in his office, Drew Barrymore
hands out stupid advice, Scarlet Johansson
flirts over a checkout, Ginnifer Goodwin acts dippy, Jennifer Connelly
dresses like a schoolboy and Justin Long dishes out advice by the handful which is worth its weight in thin air! I am still unsure of the versatility of Scarlet Johansson
as an actress. In recent years I have only seen her as a temptress that everyone finds attractive who comes across as one-flower-power-t-shirt-short-of-being-a-hippy!
The film has straight-to-camera “interviews” intertwined with the main stories which give a smattering of wisdom to those interested in listening. In many ways, this interview structure feels very much like The Sweetest Thing (starring Cameron Diaz) which is ultimately a better film.
That is not to say that HJNTIY is awful; far from it. In fact it is quite endearing despite showing women to be incompetent marriage-obsessed creatures incapable of figuring out when a man simply isn’t interested. Men are not left out of the insults though as many of them are shown to be arrogant marriage-avoiding multi-date-loving creatures who avoid second dates like the plague. The fact that I am not pulling it apart because of these stereotypical characteristics is a testament to how well it is played.
What I did want to focus on though is the underdog character of Luis Guzmán. He is an actor that I’m sure you know (even though you probably don’t recognise the name). He also plays a very small role in HJNTIY where he (a builder) discusses whether what Jennifer Connelly is saying is a question as opposed to a statement. It is scene-stealing and one of the few laugh out loud moments of the film. It is about time that someone took notice of Luis Guzmán’s talent and gave him a more spotlight role. He could have carried one of the sub-tales easily. In fact if they were to remove Connelly and Cooper’s involvement and included him, I would have enjoyed it even more (perhaps).
For a story to include this many characters it is usually easy to get confused. The fact that you don’t, is the responsibility of the writers involved. Each of the characters stand out amongst the others and instead of choosing clones (physical and acting capabilities) the casting director managed to choose individuals who complement each other.
I enjoyed He’s Just Not That Into You. It has a silly title and is more of a drama than a comedy but it benefits from not trying to be too funny or clever. Its charm lies in the fact that the dialogue on screen could come straight from a school playground. For some of us this would be a disappointment. For me however, this showed that despite our move into adulthood, we are all children with childish views at heart.
Fairly predictable and not too challenging but He’s Just Not That Into You manages to hold your attention well. It won’t be well remembered five seconds after you leave the cinema, but it manages to do what very few romance stories can: it can entertain both sexes!
The ensemble cast complements each other with each of the characters being well defined. I only wish Ms Johansson would take on a more challenging role in the future! Perhaps she could play a woman who is incapable of pouting every three seconds. If she managed to do that well, I may just call her an actress in the future!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5