In the Blu-ray extras, one of the co-writers of He’s Just Not That Into You explains that they didn’t want to make a “down the middle romantic comedy.” I guess that’s an admission that she has never seen a romantic comedy, since her movie is pretty much the textbook definition of “down the middle romantic comedy.”
The weakness in movies about dating or relationship problems is that they typically star amazing looking Hollywood starlets. Credibility is killed almost immediately when you try to make people believe Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, and Drew Berrymore are having trouble finding guys who take them out or return their calls. Beyond that, though, is when a movie like He’s Just Not That Into You is too lazy to do anything but toss every relationship movie cliché ever seen into one big salad.
The story primarily revolves around Gigi (Goodwin) who can’t figure out why guys, starting with Conor (Kevin Connolly), won’t call her back. Conor’s still hung up on Anna (Johansson), who is making eyes at Ben (Bradley Cooper). Ben is married to control freak Janine (Jennifer Connelly) who works in Gigi’s office, along with Beth (Jennifer Aniston). Beth can’t get her long-time boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) to marry her. Neil is also friends with Ben and Anna is buds with Mary (Drew Barrymore). Mary is having trouble dating in the IM/Facebook/text messaging generation. Finally (I think), Conor’s buddy Alex (Justin Long) gives Gigi advice about guys while ignoring the fact that he’s falling for her.
The cast, which is pretty impressive, isn’t really the problem here. It’s what they are asked to do and say. It’s annoying as hell for Mary to act like she not only has no experience with meeting guys on the Internet (which might be true) but also that Myspace and text messaging just snuck up on her with no warning. It’s annoying to think that there is a guy who would not call Gigi back after meeting her in a bar or that would pretend to be out of town when she called him to make-out again. It’s annoying that Beth would live for seven years with a guy who repeatedly said he didn’t want to get married and then be mad at him for not getting married.
Forgetting the silly things these people do that in no way compare to they way real people talk and act, there is also the problem that there are so many of them. Although fairly long for a romantic comedy (slightly over two hours) there are so many relationship pairings, Gigi and Conor, Conor and Anna, Anna and Ben, Ben and Janine, Neil and Beth, Alex and Gigi, and Mary and the Internet that development of any one character or relationship is pretty surfacy. That means shortcuts in action and dialogue are needed which makes the characters more two dimensional clichés than they are already.
I can’t say director Ken Kwapis is to blame. He seems to be doing the best with what he has. However, at some point you have to look at his movie output, which contains Dunston Checks In and License to Wed and think that he should probably stick to television, where he does much better. For some reason, this romantic comedy was really, really light on the comedy. The only time I found myself laughing was at a very, very minor character getting upset because his shirt was receiving a lot of criticism for not being completely black. I could tell there was a desire to have Mary’s gay co-workers provide some stereotypical comic relief, but even an insensitive clod like me found their portrayal more offensive than humorous.
The movie is based on a relationship self-help best seller that itself was based on a line from “Sex and the City.” It’s pretty much warmed over common sense that, like a “Saturday Night Live” skit, doesn’t have enough going for it to support an entire movie. If you are an undemanding romantic comedy junkie, you’ll find yourself right at home in the familiar environment of He’s Just Not That Into You.
The Blu-ray of He’s Just Not That Into You looks fantastic. It really doesn’t need to look fantastic, of course, since you’re mostly just watching beautiful yuppies in bars, lofts, and great houses, but if you want clear view of the bevy of hotties on display, this is the way to do it.
No one provides a commentary track. An uncharitable thought is that no one cared enough to sit through the whole movie again, but that’s probably not it. Director Ken Kwapis does provide commentary for about 13 minutes in deleted scenes. These are actually more interesting than the usual deleted scenes you’d get from a rom-com. Eight minutes is devoted to a completely unused side story involving the character of Anna and her narcissistic mother, played by Theresa Russell. There is also a very different way that two characters who had previously had no contact meet at the end of the film.
“Six Words that Make Up a Film” is a basic 10 minute featurette on the making-of the film. It does spend quite a bit of time on the creation of the phenomenon out of a line on “Sex and the City” with the book’s authors. It then has the stars make comments about how the information in the book is soooooooooooo true and sooooooooooo relatable. Then the writers talk about the characters being sooooooooooooooo real. I can’t blame the approach, but it’s contrary to everything the movie is, in my view, so it didn’t go down easily.
The credits of the movie include short interviews with all the main characters in sort of a “documentary” style catching up with them after the movie ends. While only about 15 or 20 seconds of each person or couple is shown in the credits, the full two to three minute interviews are included in “Baltimore Blade: The Relationship Issue.” The interviews are supplemented with scenes from the movie, so it feels like this whole thing was intended as some sort of marketing effort before the movie was released, but that’s never explained.
The final extra is the only one I really enjoyed watching. Director Kwapis talks through a scene featuring Long and Goodwin on the phone. He gives insight to how he staged the scene and points out things that a casual viewer wouldn’t notice but that increase the effectiveness of the conversation. This is the kind of behind-the-scenes information that every home entertainment release should have. Unfortunately, it is only four minutes long.
Some people love romantic comedies and they will get the standard helping with He’s Just Not That Into You. For most it would be possibly worth a rental.