Wednesday, February 4, 2009

....If He's Not Calling You...

A group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings navigate their various relationships from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life, trying to read the signs of the opposite sex--and hoping to be the exceptions to the "no-exceptions" rule. Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) just wants a man who says he'll call--and does--while Alex (Justin Long) advises her to stop sitting by the phone. Beth (Jennifer Aniston) wonders if she should call it off after years of committed singlehood with her boyfriend, Neil (Ben Affleck), but he doesn't think there's a single thing wrong with their unmarried life. Janine's (Jennifer Connelly) not sure if she can trust her husband, Ben (Bradley Cooper), who can't quite trust himself around Anna (Scarlett Johansson). Anna can't decide between the sexy married guy, or her straightforward, no-sparks standby, Conor (Kevin Connolly), who can't get over the fact that he can't have her. And Mary (Drew Barrymore), who's found an entire network of loving, supportive men, just needs to find one who's straight.

Based on the wildly popular bestseller from Sex and the City scribes Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, He's Just Not That Into You tells the stories of a group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings as they navigate their various relationships from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life, trying to read the signs of the opposite sex... and hoping to be the exceptions to the "no-exceptions" rule. If you've ever sat by the phone wondering why he said he would call, but didn't, or if you can't figure out why she doesn't want to sleep with you anymore, or why your relationship just isn't going to the next level... he (or she) is just not that into you. When Gigi (Goodwin) -- who might as well have "desperately needy" tattooed to her forehead -- doesn't get a call back from Conor (Connolly) in the requisite 20 minutes after their date has ended, she has to go into counseling with her friends/co-workers, Beth (Aniston) and Janine (Connelly), and eventually with Alex (Long), the bartender in the joint where Gigi goes to stalk Conor. While Gigi's friends talk her off the figurative ledge, it's Alex who lets her in on a few things, such as how to tell if a guy is never going to call, even though Gigi has a hard time getting any of this through her pretty little romance-ladden skull. It's all a matter of expectations, and perhaps fear of fulfillment: Mary (Barrymore), for instance, is the ad manager for a gay Baltimore magazine whose guy-pals help her through one love trauma after another, most of them virtual. She's got unanswered emails and voicemails and MySpace and Facebook friends, but love is elusive. And so is Mary, if you count face-to-face encounters. There's far more insight into the female characters, but they, too, are full of foibles. Gigi doesn't know when to back off. Neither does Janine, whose marriage to Ben (Cooper) seems OK at first, although she's a freak about his smoking -- which upsets her even more than what transpires between Ben and an overripe tartlet named Anna (Johansson), a would-be singer who's also been leading Conor (remember Conor?) around by the nose. Beth, meanwhile, learns that her sister is getting married, which throws her seven-year relationship with Neil (Affleck) into disequilibrium: Is he ever going to marry her? No. So she leaves him. And another planet spins out of control. Despite its layer of darkness (Connelly gives a really rich performance as a woman whose principles back her into a corner), "He's Just Not That Into You" is a fantasy. No one has a problem except romance. Neil sails a yacht. Ben and Janine are giving their Baltimore apartment an overhaul that would embarrass Architectural Digest. Perhaps that's the point. yesIt isn't quite an ensemble piece; it feels as though Goodwin and Long are the frontmen; Aniston, Connelly, Cooper and Connolly are the backup band; and Barrymore and Affleck are the chick singers. Johansson, as usual, is in her own movie. But the pic may also be the first contemporary escapist comedy that feels fully aware of its place in the economic vortex. The lushness, the leisure, the vicarious wealth are all balms to soothe our savaged selves as we look away from the news and onto the screen. Given the state of things, such a movie almost seems like an act of charity toward the public. It's not screwball comedy, but the underlying sentiments are the same. This one gets a 3 on my "Go See" scale. It's not great, but it's good enough. 

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