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He’s Just Not That Into You

hesjustnotthatintoyouIt took four attempts to see He’s Just Not that into You – the latest romantic comedy to hit our cinema screens. I persisted because I have been excited about its arrival for quite some time now, Perez Hilton having helpfully alerted me to its existence while it was in production with cruel insinuations about the relevance of the title to star Jennifer Aniston’s love life. I had bought the dating advice book on which the film is loosely based some years ago for a particularly disastrous-in-love friend. Giving it a quick skim before I wrapped it, I discovered that it was a godsend, offering good, sound, brutally honest advice – just what she needed!
Apparently all of Dublin’s female population has read the book too because it was they who thwarted my first three efforts to see the film. Despite minimal promotion, and probably aided by limited screenings, the film is a sell out every night of the week. When I did see it, at 5.20pm on a Thursday, the theatre was packed again, just like when Sex and the City: The Movie first came out.
Of course there has been a dearth of chick flicks since the aforementioned SATC one and cinemas (this side of the water a least) have been showcasing the Oscar contenders since Christmas. This meant that my thwarted efforts to see He’s Just Not That into You resulted in my trudging through such worthy fare as The Wrestler, Rachel Getting Married and Revolutionary Road. Now I have nothing against worthy, but amid the doom and gloom pervading much of everything these days, a rom com like He’s Just Not That Into You was just what the doctor ordered!
Released in time for Valentine’s weekend, the film documents the interconnected lives of 20-30-somethings living in Baltimore, Maryland. Chief among the players is Gigi, a very eager, yet very unfortunate, pursuer of happy ever after of the love and marriage variety. She is played with surprising restraint by Ginifer Goodwin and despite the lengths she goes to in search of her goal, she comes across as endearing. The Bridget Jones cringe moments are there, but she plays them well. In fact, she bears an uncanny resemblance, in actions as well as looks, to the friend I bought the book for all those years ago, which was unsettling for me, but probably means the film is as honest, brutal and true to life as any of the Oscar contenders.
If Gigi is my unfortunate friend, then that would make me the friendly barman who takes the voice of the dating advice book and hammers the ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ advice home to Gigi, while her female friends (Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Connelly), each with their own romantic issue to deal with, encourage her despite all warning signs.
The simple wisdom of the book is there in the film: if he doesn’t call, he’s not into you, if he won’t marry you, he’s not into you and so on. And it’s all brought home by the characters’ stories. But wisdom is something that the casting director seems to lack. The male leads, to put it kindly, well they’re just not male lead material. The main roles fall to Kevin Connelly and Justin Long and they have not a charming smile or a strong jaw between them. Beautiful women are paired with less beautiful men all the time, in real life as much as in Hollywood, but this is a rom com – aspirational is the order of the day and frankly Justin Long, the geek from Dodgeball, the kid from Ed does not cut it, and certainly not when given the role of the world wise cad about town.
Putting the misguided casting aside, He’s Just Not That Into You is a good film. It’s not The Wrestler or Revolutionary Road but I for one was very glad of that. It’s a chick flick and to give it its due it does what it does in a good and fairly unconventional manner, albeit heavily influenced by Sex and the City (the good years). A good chick flick isn’t looking to set the Academy buzzing or garner stars from critics, it sets out to entertain women (and some men too!) and if the reaction of the ladies squashed into the 5.20pm Thursday screening at Cineworld in Dublin is anything to go by, this one  does it really, really well.

He’s Just Not That Into You is now on general release.

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