- The Washington Times - Friday, February 6, 2009

“A friend really needs to see this movie,” whispered the gal I’d taken to see “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

We all have friends who really need to see this movie.

It might be the most thorough, realistic chick flick of recent times. That could be because it’s based on the best-selling advice book of the same title by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, two writers from HBO’s “Sex and the City,” where the catchphrase originated.

The pair offered tough love to the legions of women who made excuses for the guys who weren’t calling, proposing or staying faithful. Rather than suggesting he was too busy, too ill-prepared or too neglected at home, the writers declared that he simply was just not that into you. Move on, ladies.

As the lives of this fictional group of interconnected friends in Baltimore illustrate, even smart, successful women can fall into the making-excuses trap. (It’s a global thing, as we see at film’s start: “I’m sure he just forgot your hut number,” a woman in Africa tells a friend. “Or was eaten by a lion.”)

Beth (Jennifer Aniston) has been with her live-in boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) for seven years and wonders if he’ll ever propose. Anna (Scarlett Johansson) is pretty sure Ben (Bradley Cooper) will leave his wife Janine (Jennifer Connelly) for her, while Conor (Kevin Connolly) wonders if he’ll ever be more than friend-with-benefits to Anna. The technologically savvy Mary (Drew Barrymore, also a producer) wonders how to meet guys in the flesh.

Screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein have found a clever conceit to get the advice in the film. The movie’s heart is Gigi (“Big Love’s” Ginnifer Goodwin), a young woman who embodies those looking for love at their most blind. Bar owner Alex (Justin Long) takes pity on her and gives her guidance. Gigi passes along her newfound knowledge to her co-workers — but not without some heartbreak along the way.

This film plays like an early “Sex and the City” episode, with women hilariously overanalyzing their relationships and documentarylike interludes from “real” people with the same problems. This is one painfully funny film. We all think we know better than the lovelorn people on-screen, but if we did, the book wouldn’t have sold so many copies.

“He’s Just Not That Into You” is filled with big-name stars who all seem to share perfect chemistry. The standout men include Mr. Long, whose strong performance makes the advice gimmick work, and Mr. Cooper, a blue-eyed, impossibly handsome actor with the film’s toughest job — making a cheater sympathetic.

Miss Aniston, however, steals the show. She might never have done better work than she does here. A crucial scene in which her character lays it all out on the line is almost heartbreaking. In fact, not everyone’s story in “He’s Just Not That Into You” has a happy ending.

It’s just one of the ways in which this enjoyable film departs from the usual chick-flick cliches.


TITLE: “He’s Just Not That Into You”

RATING: PG-13 (Sexual content and brief strong language)

CREDITS: Directed by Ken Kwapis. Written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein based on the book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes

WEB SITE: hesjustnotthatintoyoumovie.com


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