Film Review: He's Just Not That Into You

Romantic roundelay adapted from a self-help book tries to make a statement about dating in the new millennium, but gets mired in a labyrinthine soap opera of doormats and dudes.

It may be the moment when a weasel-faced cheater (Bradley Cooper) is getting serviced in his office chair by his corset-wearing wife (Jennifer Connelly) while his busty blonde mistress (Scarlett Johansson), stripped to a red bra and slip, hides in his closet. At that point, any pretense this dating-travails comedy had of catching the Zeitgeist and being the 2000s equivalent of Cameron Crowe's Singles (1992) goes belly-up. Despite some individual scenes of keen insight and affecting performance, this adaptation of the 2004 self-help best-seller by "Sex and the City" writer Liz Tuccillo and comedian Greg Behrendt, a series consultant, is glib, shallow, directionless, and occasionally creepy and icky in ways I don't think the filmmakers intended.

Opening with a brilliant bit—a little girl at a playground is set upon by a mean boy, and when she asks her mother why, Mom in all kindness and sincerity says being mean is how boys show they like you—the film then introduces us to a swirling series of first-name broad-stroke characters with no dimension other than their job descriptions: Conor (Kevin Connolly) sells real estate. His roommate Alex (Justin Long) owns a bar. Mary (Drew Barrymore, whose company helped produce the film) sells ad space in a gay Baltimore weekly paper in which Conor advertises. She's friends with Anna (Johansson), a blonde-bombshell yoga teacher/aspiring singer. Anna sets her sights on Ben (Cooper), who's married to Janine (Jennifer Connelly), who works at the New Colony Spice corporation with Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Beth (Jennifer Aniston), who lives with Neil (Ben Affleck). Providing what passes for a narrative thread is the exaggeratedly clingy and needy Gigi, whose inability to find Mr. Right seems less because He's Not Into Her than because She Needs Professional Therapy.

The comings and goings and connections and missteps take place in cool, modern loft apartments, and renovated townhouses, and huge sailboats. Blackout interludes feature everyone from a “hey-yo” type guy to an older divorcée (an uncredited Cristine Rose of “Heroes”) to, in one hilarious bit, African tribal women all talking about how tough it is to date. ("I'm sure he just forgot your hut number.") But it all adds up to nothing we haven't heard before, and not in a universal-truth sort of way—more like a clueless, movie-formula way. Maybe we're just expecting too much from a fiction feature based on a non-fiction, pop-psychology book almost surely written more as humor than as self-help. I mean, two comedy writers created the original book—not sociologists, or philosophers, or relationship gurus. So why shouldn't the movie be thin and mindless?

The bad blonde gets punished, of course—My God! What man would ever want to date a woman who looks like Scarlett Johansson? She's destined to be alone!—as is the straying husband. If it all had been funnier, then at least this might have been a passable time-killer for its two-hour-plus length. As it is, we're just not that into it.