FILM REVIEW - He's Just Not That Into You

The film He’s Just Not That Into You is based on a hugely successful book of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, who also wrote for Sex and the City.
FILM REVIEW - He's Just Not That Into You
The film He’s Just Not That Into You is based on a hugely successful book of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, who also wrote for Sex and the City. I have to admit I have not read the book – but looking at these writers credentials, I expect it would be something that offers sharp insights into that age old problem - the woeful lack of understanding between men and women. Now we come to the movie version of this book. There is probably one genuinely empowering thing to say about He’s Just Not That Into You the film – and that is that Drew Barrymore was one of the executive producers. She will probably make a heap of money when this movie becomes a huge success, and I am happy that a substantial amount of the fiscal benefits will go to an increasingly entrepreneurial young woman. Now to the script. It should be noted that Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo did not write the script, and perhaps it suffered from this lack of connection. The person I was sitting next to during this film review told me that they were expecting the story to have no thread or bite. We spent a couple of minutes discussing how films of this genre can find it difficult to sustain a certain genuineness in their narrative, and not become stereotypical episodes of every other weekly TV relationship/comedy genre we have to endure. So imagine my surprise when I turned to him at the end of the screening to find he had found the experience entirely engaging. Without doubt the actors had it all under control. Although I expect talent like Jennifer Connolly, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansen, Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Aniston (to name only some of the cast) could easily emote through 10 of these roles simultaneously with their eyes shut and hands tied behind their back. And yes they are worth watching simply because they do manage to entertain the audience despite the dullest of scripts. So what is the film about? Well it is a series of stories, vignettes even, of a group of professional thirtysomethings who are either married or keen to get married. It takes a supposedly comical gendered position and dissects every possible aspect of a relationship from the basic dating rules to the social media complications, to unfaithfulness, to looming social pressures. Deep down I know we are supposed to laugh good naturedly at the young girl desperate to find Mr Right at whatever cost, at a young man being mucked around by a sexy Scarlett Johansen, at a confused Jennifer Aniston who really wants to just get married, but when the script stops pretending it is anything more than a schmaltzy re-reading of 1950s Americana, then the joke wears mighty thin. Yes surprise surprise there is a happy ending for practically everyone. Of course I realise I am in danger of sounding way out of touch here, because I do indeed expect this film to be seriously successful. However I also despair, in the same way I did when I saw the Sex and the City film, when strong female leads are turned into bewildered blobs of uncertainty. He's Just Not That Into You is directed by Ken Kwapis (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, NBC's The Office) from a screenplay by Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein (Never Been Kissed), based on the book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Nancy Juvonen produced the film, with Drew Barrymore, Toby Emmerich, Michele Weiss and Michael Beugg serving as executive producers and Michael Disco and Gwenn Stroman co-producing. The film is a New Line Cinema Presentation, and a Flower Films Production.

Rita Dimasi

Monday 9 February, 2009

About the author

Rita Dimasi is an Arts Hub reviewer.