The great film critic Gene Siskel used to state that a successful film should be more intriguing than watching the same actors having lunch on set. Watching these talented performers talk about their craft would be extraordinarily appealing; on the other hand, this is not a fascinating film and I must conclude that it ultimately fails under this critical system.
“He’s Just Not That Into You” divides itself into certain chapters with real life testimonials that vary between funny and floundering. This structure echoes that used in “When Harry Met Sally,” but that film did not continuously contradict itself and focused solely on two characters with actions and dialogue that reflected realism, while this film only has one person with true convictions, showing her only on certain occasions. Some of the other characters in “He’s Just Not That Into You” achieve levity above the material in spare moments, but mostly fluctuate between boring and pathetic with incomprehensible reactions to certain situations. Overall, there is too much happening in a severely redundant way.
The stories are an attempt to illustrate various aspects of relationships but most cover the same material while others are simply uninteresting. Neil (Ben Affleck) and Beth (Jennifer Aniston) have been together for seven years and she is beginning to feel that he will never marry her. Some of these people are slow.
Janine (Jennifer Connolly) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) are a newly married couple who seem aesthetically happy but are actually miserable and trapped within their union. Conor (Kevin Connolly) is hopelessly in love with Anna (Scarlett Johansson) but she only has interest in Ben, possibly because his unavailability is attractive. Alex (Justin Long) is giving advice to the oblivious Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) on the nature of the male species. Mary (Drew Barrymore) is a woman who is having difficulty keeping in touch with the men in her life because of the massive technological networks that corrode the current social environment.
The easiest manner to evaluate the merits of an ensemble film is by examining the performances and the realism of the characters in connection with the ultimate message. All the actors do an admirable job of attempting to make these people interesting, but for some this is a futile task. It might be what they were given in the screenplay, but it may also be how passionately they understand their character’s various dilemmas.
Jennifer Aniston plays a woman whose idiocy is only exceeded by that of the person played by Ben Affleck who, along with being a moron, is also delusional and living in an alternate universe. Scarlett Johansson is a wonderful actress, but is saddled with a person whose self-esteem is overwhelmed only by statements that confirm her stupidity. Bradley Cooper needs someone to give him a three-dimensional character, instead of the unrepentant jerk with placid reasons for his actions that he always is forced to make human. Jennifer Connelly has authentic scenes, surrounded by improbable response to different life crises.
The innocence Drew Barrymore brings to the role is always refreshing. Kevin Connolly extends his range from “Entourage” and creates a vulnerable character, hoping to be as confident as his advertisement projects. Justin Long is engaging as a person whose sadism engulfs his desire for true happiness.
The standout is Ginnifer Goodwin who is a pleasure to watch. She lights up the screen with the bright smile that projects the perpetual hope her character never relinquishes. Goodwin is wonderful in every scene, envying the love others around her experience and willing to ensure this happens to her by going to seemingly extreme lengths.
I can relate to the various predicaments Goodwin’s character is forced to work through and probably liked the film more than I should have because of my connection to her. I wanted her to be happy because I want myself to be happy. I am constantly asking my friends advice about situations with girls because of my lack of social skills, which she portrays with extreme accuracy. She is more blessed than others with this same affliction because her attractive body and smile projects warmth that endows her with hope that is not possible for those such as myself.
The film should have spent more time on Goodwin’s story and less on the others. Goodwin, whose accuracy and realism in creating a character who knows there is happiness for her despite all evidence to the contrary, almost makes the film enjoyable enough for a trip to the theater. In movies as well as love, almost is not good enough to go through all the emotional aggravation of allowing your emotions to be vulnerable.