Don't go see He's Just Not That Into You
on Valentine's Day or as part of any type of Valentine's Day celebration. Even if you and your girlfriends decide to do the anti-Valentine's Day thing (again) this year, don't go see this film. Despite the well-edited trailers and Hollywood ending, this is not a romantic comedy. It's good, and I recommend it - but just not for Valentine's Day.
In essence, the film takes the premise of a best-selling self-help book and gives it a narrative arc: Stop deluding yourself, sister. He's not going to call (or stop cheating or suddenly, after all these years, get down on one knee and propose).
This is a movie about stereotypes: the cute girl who just can't seem to meet Mr. Right, or even Mr. Close Enough. The wife who just can't put her finger on it, but knows her husband is cheating. The successful career girl who would have it all - if only her longtime boyfriend would propose. The sultry single girl who sees her potential soulmate's marriage as a minor inconvenience to her own goal of snagging a man.
It's the good performances by a great cast that make this film worth the price of admission. Ginnifer Goodwin deserves high marks as the perky and delusional girl-next-door, Gigi. Her on-screen time with Justin Long is some of the most enjoyable of the film.
Jennifer Connelly is, per usual, stellar. Her husband, played by newcomer Bradley Cooper, is genuinely a likeable guy - even when he's a crappy husband. Given that Scarlett Johansson's character is throwing herself at him, he can hardly be blamed for his weakness. Who could possibly resist that inferno of sexuality?
Drew Barrymore is one of the film's producers, as well as one of its stars. But there's a good hour in the middle where you might just forget she's in the film at all.
The best performance in the film, however, is that of Jennifer Aniston, whose portrayal of Beth, the long-term girlfriend of Neil (Ben Affleck), is the most soulful and subtle of the ensemble. As she faces her own relationship insecurities, pushed into overdrive by the marriage of her younger sister, she never gets shrill or cartoonish. There's a maturity to Aniston's performance that gives her the center of gravity the rest of the film lacks.
In the end, this might be one of those movies that captures a snapshot of American male-female relationships precisely in the moment of the generation that is living it (think St. Elmo's Fire, Slackers
or even Reality Bites
). But I doubt it.
Because at the very last minute, Hollywood steps in to save each of these women and each of these couples from themselves in a way that reality seldom does, so that each lives happily ever after.