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With: Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long, Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Luis Guzmán, Busy Philipps, Kris Kristofferson
Written by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, based on a book by Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo
Directed by: Ken Kwapis
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language
Running Time: 129
Date: 02/05/2009

He's Just Not That Into You (2009)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Clingy and Crazy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like last year's Sex and the City, here comes another chick flick that hurtles chickhood backwards at least a couple of decades. For guys, it poses the deep, philosophical question: if you were married to Jennifer Connelly, would you sneak off with Scarlett Johansson? Otherwise, He's Just Not That Into You is an ensemble piece filled with too much dialogue, not enough cinema and only a precious few characters that come close to resembling anything from life. It comes from, of all things, a best-selling 2004 self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, which may explain why the characters are all behavior and no humanity. (They exhibit behavior patterns, but they don't live.)

Cutie-pie Ginnifer Goodwin leads the cast as Gigi, who apparently has no trouble getting dates, but can't hang onto them because she immediately acts clingy and weird. She has drinks with Conor (Kevin Connolly) and begins obsessing over him. While trying to "bump into him" at a local bar, she meets Conor's pal Alex (Justin Long), a bartender and an expert on reading "date signs." He lets her know the awful truth about men's behavior, and in being such a cool, detached, sly sage, he becomes the movie's most interesting character, or at least until his inevitable and boring "redemption." Meanwhile, Conor is really seeing Anna (Scarlett Johansson), except that she has stopped sleeping with him. Instead, she has just met Ben (Bradley Cooper), a married man with whom there's an undeniable spark. Ben's wife, Janine (Jennifer Connelly), is obsessed with re-designing her home; her practical side has left Ben emotionally stranded. Anna's pal Mary (Drew Barrymore) is having trouble meeting men online. Ben's pal Neil (Ben Affleck) is happily living with his girlfriend of seven years, Beth (Jennifer Aniston), though she is beginning to despair that there will never be a wedding ring. I think that's about it, except that a plethora of stereotypical gay characters pop in and out every so often.

Director Ken Kwapis, who deftly balanced comedy and drama in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005), here swings wildly and misses, lurching headfirst into big, tear-filled moments that thunk like lead. All of these dramas are totally and completely resolved by the time this long -- loooooonnnng -- movie is over, though to its credit, not everyone ends up in love. Most of the actors suffer under the weak writing and limp direction, but Long comes out okay, as does Johansson, who seems more comfortable and sensuous than she usually is in bad films. Far and away the best scene is played by the great character actor Luis Guzmán, who endures a tirade from one of the women and effortlessly swats it away like a tennis champ smashing a ball of crazy. For some reason, the movie takes place in Baltimore, but completely fails to use that city's personality for additional spice. (Think what John Waters could have done with this material!)

DVD Details: New Line's DVD comes only with 13 minutes of deleted scenes, mostly containing a subplot for Scarlett Johansson's character (and co-starring Theresa Russell). It also contains a digital copy of the film.

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