Scarlett Johansson and Kevin Connolly in the romantic comedy ensemble film "He's Just Not That Into You", directed by Ken Kwapis.  (Photo: Warner Brothers)

THE POPCORN REEL FILM REVIEW/"He's Just Not That Into You"
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Not Calling Nor Committing And Weren't Afraid To Ask
By Omar P.L. Moore/February 6, 2009         SHARE

Ken Kwapis crafts a cheeky, fun-loving comic romance vehicle with "He's Just Not That Into You", a film based on an anthology of stories by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo about the signals a woman gets from a man to represent profound (or just ordinary) disinterest in the fairer sex.  Structured as chapter stops in a style and tone reminiscent of Woody Allen's 1972 film "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask", Mr. Kwapis's film isn't as raunchy or ridiculous, which is just as well.  Essentially, four stories are told in just over two hours of screen time: that of a semi-neurotic woman who literally shuns her mother to keep the phone lines clear for the potential male mate who she thinks will call.  Doesn't she have call-waiting? 

Then there's the roguish male bartender who tells her what traits to look for from a man to tell if he won't ever call let alone commit.  There's the couple who has lived together for seven years and hasn't yet married.  And there's the married couple who are together but haven't really lived, their marriage threatened by temptation.  Surprisingly the famous song "Tempted" by Squeeze doesn't play in the film but just about every Jennifer in the fame 411 book does -- Ginnifer Goodwin is Gigi the lovelorn phone hanger-on, Jennifer Connelly is the wife whose marriage is plagued by carnal intrusions partaken by her husband (Bradley Cooper) and Jennifer Aniston is almost married but not to a man who is quite happy living with her but not tying the knot.  Ben Affleck plays the happily single-living happily together man, yet the disappointing news is he invited neither former flame Jennifer Lopez nor his wife Jennifer Garner to join this ensemble cast.  All the Jennifers, all the time.  Not only will Jennifers enjoy this surprisingly good and engaging enterprise but their Jonathans will too. 

Peripheral players on the Men-are-from-Mars-Women-are-from-Venus landscape are Kevin Connolly (from HBO cable television's "Entourage" series) as a real estate agent looking to hold on to his true love (Scarlet Johansson) while she pursues other guilty pleasures and a small role by Drew Barrymore, the film's executive producer, as an editor at a gay magazine in Baltimore, lamenting the way technology has become an intrusive factor in meeting a man in one funny scene verbally illustrating the frustration that Gigi is playing out.  "He's Just Not" is lively and entertaining and its stories have different energy levels, with more drama in the episodes featuring the Jennifers Connelly and Aniston, including a needless incident in the third act making the Aniston-Affleck story a little more serious than it has to be.  Miss Johansson's character is trying to build a music career and needs some help from one of the men in the other stories.  She tempts, teases but doesn't do so forcefully.  Justin Long is the bartender who can best be described as the male whore of this bunch.  He is impeccable here as a nonchalant and impervious-to-feeling man (aka insensitive as hell) and as you watch him you wonder if he is simply guarding himself from loneliness.

Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein write the film's screenplay.  The script, full of funny lines and amusing references, raises real issues and allows for a little thought provocation about this centuries-old dance between men and women, the cat-and-mouse games they play.  A number of small vignettes round out "He's Just Not", including the man or woman-on-the-street shots of people tossing in their two cents on the subjects of dating, ritual, marriage and break-ups.  There's narration too, yet the actors, editor and director must be saluted for managing to make it through two-plus hours even if all those involved in front of the camera don't come out clean on the other side.  Of all the actors here Miss Goodwin is a sensational standout, turning Gigi, an initially cloying and neurotic nervous ninny, into a lovable character, one that Alanis Morrisette probably sang of in her 1990's song "You Learn".  Miss Aniston does just enough to keep us smiling, while Ms. Connelly plays as if she is in a completely different film from the rest of the cast.  Mr. Cooper ("Yes Man") tests his onscreen character's tolerances and Mr. Connelly is an endearing figure as Conor, working to win love the somewhat old-fashioned way.

Of the recent romantic comedies -- "Bride Wars", "Sex And The City", "27 Dresses", with "Confessions Of A Shopaholic" coming next weekend -- "He's Just Not That Into You" is a significant upgrade over all of them.  On its own it stands up as a solid bit of celluloid.  Enjoy with a date, early or late. 

And guys, please -- return her call if you haven't already done so.

"He's Just Not That Into You" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sexual content and brief strong language.  The film's duration is two hours and nine minutes.

Copyright The Popcorn Reel.  PopcornReel.com.  2009.  All Rights Reserved.

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