are you the exception . . . or are you the rule?
The DVD cover of He's Just Not That Into You sports a patchwork quilt of photos of its popular stars. It just about sums up the movie, really. Based (loosely, I suspect) upon the book with the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, this comedic drama's most notable element is the strong ensemble who put in good performances. Everything else is perfunctory, at best.
Set in Baltimore, He's Just Not That Into You has one of those multi-layered plots where characters are much more interconnected than they realize. To provide a synopsis of the way these characters' lives intersect would take a while - and really isn't necessary. What's important to note is that we're following a number of couples who are falling in and out of love with one another.
The focal point of the film, however, is Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin from HBO's Big Love series), an awkward professional 20-something who is looking for love and making a fool of herself as she's doing so due to some peculiar overly romantic notions. It doesn't help that she works with and receives advice from Janine (Jennifer Connelly), an obsessive woman whose husband (Bradley Cooper) is cheating, and Beth (Jennifer Aniston), whose own boyfriend (Ben Affleck) rejects the concept of marriage. Gigi finds herself receiving even more dating advice from a cynical bartender (Justin Long) and begins to suspect that he may be in love with her.
There's a lot of drama in this movie, and much of it seems forced in the screenplay, credited to Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. With a running length of 129 minutes, it's a bit longer than the traditional romantic comedy, and that's obviously a result of having such disparate characters work through their relationship issues. There are some funny moments in the film - most of them are asides where a variety of men and women comment rapidly upon dating travails. The most humorous moment is when two women on a bench talk about the "Jedi mind tricks" men play. But, the movie itself emphasizes emotion over laughs, for the most part.
In the end, it's the strong acting that keeps things afloat here. In addition to the stars mentioned above, the cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Connolly, and Kris Kristofferson. For as ditzy as her character is written, Ginnifer Goodwin is surprisingly likeable as Gigi, who is looking for that one true love. I can't really fault any of the other performances. Long, Aniston, Barrymore, Affleck, and the others are solid in supporting roles, though perhaps it should be stated that they're all playing fairly familiar roles that don't require a lot of reach. Jennifer Connelly provides some dramatic weight to the proceedings as the woman forced to face the dissolution of her marriage. She's a great actress, and it's a shame that the role is, in some ways, poorly written. Throughout the film, for example, she obsesses over her husband's smoking - and it's clear that it's a smokescreen (no pun intended) for much deeper emotional issues. However, a scene where she interrogates the guy remodeling her home about it is pretty ridiculous.
To sum up, He's Just Not That Into You is one of those movies where the cast elevates a fairly ho-hum script. It was enough for me to be entertained for a couple hours. Recommended.
New Line Cinema released He's Just Not That Into You as a flipper disc, with one side housing the original widescreen version and the other side sporting a cropped full-screen format. The widescreen version is anamorphic in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and it looks very nice. The image is sharp, and colors appear strong.
The lone audio track is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 affair. Dialogue is always clear, but as a drama, don't expect a particularly dynamic presentation. Optional subtitles are available in English (for the hearing impaired) and Spanish.
Two ads - one for Blu-Ray and one an anti-smoking campaign - and trailers for Inkheart and 17 Again precede the main menu. They don't seem accessible within the menu system, however.
Disappointingly, there's little in the way of extras on this disc. A Deleted Scenes (13:51 total) link leads to a sub-menu with an unnecessarily complicated menu structure for a series of scenes cut from the movie - playable with and without commentary by director Ken Kwapis. If Kwapis was available to record commentary for these scenes, then why not record one for the film itself? In any case, these scenes are presented in widescreen but not anamorphically.
Strong performances by its very good cast, especially Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Connelly, outweigh He's Just Not That Into You's convoluted script and so-so direction. Recommended.