Thursday, February 26, 2009
He's Just Not That Into You **
Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore
Jennifer Connelly, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson
Ben Affleck, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long
When a film based on a book, based on the plot of an episode in a television series is made, you would think that this postmodernist basis would also be said film's axis or at least help it.
This romantic comedy however chooses to take the cliché path and delivers an old fashioned, trite plot with very modern intentions.
Several storylines involving the main actresses are intertwined as they all deal with a specific man who just isn't into them.
For Beth (Aniston) it's her boyfriend of seven years (Affleck) who has no intention of marrying her. In Gigi's (Goodwin) case she's so disappointed with men that she starts taking advice from a misogynist (Long). Anna (Johansson) is set on conquering a married man (Cooper) who's having trouble of his own with his wife (Connelly).
Then there's Mary (Barrymore) who is having trouble adjusting to the need of keeping up with all the possible ways of meeting people nowadays and who receives her advice from the men she works with, all of whom are gay.
Their stories, announced by title cards with phrases that explain their problems, are preceded by documentary like interviews with people (mostly unknown actors) who give the "every(wo)man" point of view before we get to see the big stars put on the show.
And in fact when the cast is so good as the one featured here, there's at least the satisfaction of watching them mingle onscreen.
The rest of the time they just blabber and move towards emotional realizations we've seen coming for ages.
That's perhaps the film's biggest problem; anyone can argue that the "rom-com" has become perhaps the most predictable of the genres, which is why it's also a known, but rarely accepted, fact that people don't come to them for advice of any sort of wisdom.
We come to see these movies because we want to escape our own realities. So a film that takes the extra step and tries to deliver a little bit extra should not comply and follow traditional genre rules which is exactly what happens here.
Some scenes are uncomfortable to watch, not because they ring emotionally, but because they are so forced that you can't laugh, be inspired or even entertained by them.
The screenplay is loaded with so many lazy symbolisms (a marriage coming apart while their home is being remodeled...just imagine all those deconstruction analogies you can come up with) that you wonder how people fail to see that this "chick flick" actually has no idea how to treat women.
Men who think female audiences are driven to anything involving romance will be hugely disappointed to learn that, when it comes to love, in fact female and male processes of thinking and perceiving information couldn't be more apart if they tried.
This doesn't mean that one is better than the other, they're just different and the film works when it grasps on to that and spices it up with some irony and tongue in cheek humor (Barrymore's monologue about how she must use eight different technologies to know if the guy is interested is brilliant!), but then the director comes and reduces these women to stereotypes we've seen in a million different movies.
Stereotypes nobody in the audience is going to want to take advice from. That the film ends with a character emphasizing what is arguably the most popular word in the current English language (it rhymes with "mope") is more than enough to know that for all its intentions the director works like the boyfriend who ignores his girl throughout the game, but then gives her a present expecting she'll forgive and forget.