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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

He’s Just Not That Into You

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

This latte-frothy, star-studded, overstuffed romantic comedy got its title (and inspiration) from a Sex and the City gag line that spawned a best-seller by Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt, whom you may remember as the spiky-haired chat-show tool who briefly ruined daytime TV. The author and his soul patch cameo here, but the real star power's in a huge cast of tabloid darlings including Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Kevin Conroy and Jennifer Aniston.

The film's set in an alternate dimension where Baltimore's the epicenter of romantically neurotic, club-life-loving supermodel-hot singles, where such gorgeous women have trouble getting dates. This never-land also sports zippy cultural relevance for MySpace references (but not Facebook), and breaks verisimilitude by featuring people who allude to texting, but spend time chatting on clunky landline phones.

The basic premise is that guys are childish jerks and women are either too controlling or simpering ninnies.

But it ain't without charm, namely Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love) as the bubbly but romantically hapless Gigi, who ends up getting earnest dating advice from smarmily charming bar owner Alex (Justin Long), a bronco who she'd not-so-secretly like to buck. Meanwhile, her co-workers, at the world's best looking office, struggle to nail their men into domesticity; Barrymore's surfing for love online, while working at an alt-weekly staffed entirely by chatty gay guys. Then Scarlett Johansson parachutes in from Slut Mountain, playing exactly the sort of pouty-lipped blonde home-wrecker that the flick's target demo loves to hate. Not only does she play an irritating game of peek-a-boob in a skinny-dipping scene — guaranteed to frustrate horny bloggers — but her fickle and uncontrolled schoolgirl lust ruins at least four lives, which qualifies her as the most worthless character in a rogue's galley of twits.

At first glance, Ben Affleck's like a special effect, his megastardom threatening to overwhelm his bid at character-actor status, until you notice he's giving the most understated and credible performance here. He has real chemistry with Jennifer Aniston, but their semi-mature "Will we ever get married?" storyline isn't juicy enough to carry the picture, and gets pushed to the bench. Some couplings work, some don't, but if you wait a few moments the movie will jump to the next one.

Director Ken Kwapis' film work ranges between girls'-night fluff (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and utter crap (License to Wed), but his extensive TV résumé (The Office, Malcolm in the Middle) might explain the movie's decidedly episodic flavor. With its tangle of intersecting affairs and its endless cavalcade of moody romantic and pop-psych greeting-card platitudes, it feels like an Alain Resnais movie made by people who couldn't tell nouvelle vague from New Coke.

Dudes will loathe this thing: It's the ultimate anti-date movie, and heaven help us if the girls get together to see it, as who knows what deeply hidden, bad-breakup demons will emerge later over coffee.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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