Starring: Jennifer Connely, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ben Affleck, Justin Long & Bradley Cooper
Director: Ken Kwapis
You can reasonably expect that a romantic comedy based on a self-help book, which was itself based on a single line from an episode of Sex And the City, might not have anything new to say about the battle of the sexes -- especially when the title is as sickeningly hip as He's Just Not That Into You. And while Kwapis" movie certainly comes weighed down with observations and insights recycled from thousands of other romantic comedies, he at least manages to shape them into something entertaining, if not in any way essential.
If you know you're dealing with overly familiar dialogue, then you'd better put it in the mouths of actors who, through sheer personality, can do something unique with it, and hiring Goodwin as your ingenue starts you off on the right foot. As Gigi, a naïve twentysomething single girl unable to read the signs that the men she's interested in just aren't interested in her, Goodwin exudes positivity without being cloying, and sadness without being pitiful. The scenes charting her slow courtship with emotionally detached bar manager Alex (Long) are the best in the movie because the two have genuine chemistry -- they are easily the standouts of a large cast. That's not to say that any of the other actors embarrass themselves: Affleck shows off his laid-back charm; Cooper impresses as a cheating husband who stays likable even when he knows he's screwing up; and Johansson offers up another subtle variation on the carnal goddess archetype she's already perfected.
Kwapis" skill as a television director serves him well with this material -- he knows how to keep the multiple storylines moving, without sacrificing quality screen time for any of the performers. The movie hums along like a solidly built clock, but there's just nothing surprising or new -- anybody who gets ill at the prospect of sitting through a chick flick should avoid it at all costs. That said, there is something so thoroughly adequate about the whole project, it's hard to deny that it "works." There's tons of professionalism in this movie, but it lacks passion -- they should have called it "Like, Actually." (129 mins.)
My Rating: **