He's Just Not That Into You

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Or, then again, maybe he is. Didn’t he make the puppy face? Didn’t he act all contrite? Didn’t he run panting to your doorstep in the movie’s last act and declare his love after two hours of playing it coy? When a romantic comedy’s not-that-into-you guys are embodied by softies like Justin Long, Ben Affleck and Entourage’s nicest-manager-in-Hollywood Kevin Connolly, that’s not a lot of rejection, ladies.

For a film based on a self-help book, such stacking of the deck hints at something fascinating. Inspired by an unusually sharp line of dialogue from TV’s Sex and the City, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo’s 2004 best-seller did its best to strip drama away from the nerve-shredding activity of dating. Meanwhile, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein’s adaptation does its level best to put all the drama back in. And why not? The movie is a drama, or more precisely, an empowerment fantasy for women—and not an unsatisfying one. Thus, my provocative suggestion: When women read self-help books, they want hard truths, but when they go to the movies (perhaps even on dates), they want to be lied to.

And still, a strange appeal exists in watching these white-bread Baltimore stories play out predictably. Credit the women of the ensemble: Jennifer Connelly, once nearly a luscious pinup, is becoming more interesting as she gets harsher and more cheat-on-able, as are Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore. Scarlett Johansson, jumping nude into a swimming pool, is the unspoken enemy of these women. Do you think she gets a happy ending?--Joshua Rothkopf

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