I think Ginnifer Goodwin is one of the most adorable actresses around, so when I remembered she was in He’s Just Not That Into You, I got it. B (because he happened to be sitting in the living room at the time) and I watched it last week. You know what? It wasn’t half bad. It wasn’t great, but it would make perfect in-flight entertainment.
HJNIY, based on a self-help book for women, follows 5 women through various stages of relationships. Goodwin plays “Gigi”, a young woman who is looking for love. Her in-a-bad-marriage-with-Bradley-Cooper (“Ben”) sister, “Janine”, is played by Jennifer Connelly. Jennifer Anniston (how did these women keep each other straight on the set?) is “Beth”, who wants desperately to be married to “Neil” (a/k/a Ben Affleck) her live-in boyfriend of 7 years–he does not want to get married.
Scarlett Johansson is “Anna”, a libidinous yoga teacher who is using Kevin Connolly’s “Conor” for validation, while striving to get into Bradley Cooper’s married pants. Her friend “Mary”, played by Drew Barrymore, is a single, lamenting how the internet has taken over dating.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl* of the film is Justin Long (the Mac guy), who plays “Alex”. Alex is the love guru who takes Gigi under his wing to explain how she can tell when a guy Just Isn’t That Into Her.
The cast is great, and is what saves this from being a terrible movie. There isn’t much of a plot, and most of the characters are difficult to like. By the end, B had said, “I hate him/her,” about every one of them, save Mary, Beth and Neil. I had to fully agree, though I couldn’t quite bring myself to hate Gigi because…I’ve been Gigi.
I’ve been Gigi and I’ve been Mary. I’ve been friends with Anna, Mary, Janine, and Beth. I saw a lot of familiar “faces” in this movie.
Cutting to the chase, there is this scene where Gigi has misunderstood Alex’s invitation to a party, and where she further misunderstands his request for her to help him keep the party food bowls filled up. Thinking she is there as his date, she gets excited that she has been upgraded from “date” to “hostess”, and she starts working that room like she’s Caroline Astor. The girl even cleans up the place while Alex and a leggy model play video games.
She’s starting to clue in, you can tell–great acting from Goodwin here–but she’s not quite ready to admit that she’s been an absolute fool, so she flings herself at the passive aggressive Alex, forcing him to be blunt: He’s not into her that way.
I don’t know who was following me around that NYE party in 1991, but it was exceedingly cruel of you to put my foibles on the big screen. Especially considering I am not getting paid for it. Because that exact thing? That EXACT thing? I hate so much to tell you that I’ve been there. I mean, right down to some of the dialog, I have been there. Poor Gigi!
I didn’t make the same scene Gigi does, but I did storm out in a fit of pique. I also ended up with a very similar result to hers–I’m guessing the way her story played out is that she and Alex dated off and on for a long time. I am guessing that his interest always held just long enough for her to trust him and love him back, then it would wane. Each time she threw up her hands and said, “You know what? Never mind,” he would suddenly be interested again. But, after a couple of years of this, Gigi probably ended up with a massive crush on some other emotionally unavailable weirdo in closer proximity, and transferred her obsessive neediness onto him.
Hopefully, Gigi had similar life epiphanies to mine, got herself straightened out and married a nice guy. A nice guy who will watch chick flicks with her and not notice when she is cringing with embarrassment that exists on a cellular level when they watch this particular movie.
The other situation I found hitting way too close to home was a conversation between Mary and Anna, where Mary haltingly–out of love for her friend–finds a way to excuse her friend’s behavior. There is this moment between Mary’s hearing the problem with the situation, and her reasoning her friend out of condemnation and judgment and the look on Drew Barrymore’s face is…perfect. She played that perfectly. Her tone. Her cadence. Her willingness to bend the rules for a friend she loves. Perfection.
There were several points throughout the movie where I found myself consciously thinking what fantastic acting choices the players were making. Not in a negative way. Not like I was taken out of the scene by obvious acting, but because the delivery was so spot on real-live-human-being that I had to stop, drop, and give prop. There were some impressive deliveries, especially from Goodwin, Barrymore, and Affleck.
I give this a very, if uncomfortably entertaining 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Where were the 1.25 stars lost? Jennifer Connelly was terrible. I don’t know if it was because her character was so unsympathetic, or if it was that her eyebrows were so unsettling, or if she wasn’t feeling well, but her performance just wasn’t there. I don’t think Bradley Cooper can act to begin with, and I don’t find him as pretty as some do, so he couldn’t save the storyline of the love triangle between him, Connelly and ScarJo from being just gross and sad. Ever think you’d see “gross and sad” and “ScarJo” in the same sentence?
ScarJo’s character was gross and sad. I took away .25 stars just because she made me feel so icky.
By the by, I told B never to cheat on me, but especially never to cheat on me with ScarJo. He asked what was wrong with ScarJo? I said, “Absolutely nothing, and that is the problem.” Not even my self-esteem would recover from that one.
*Gigi is what happens when a girl TRIES to be the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and don’t I know that. Jeez. That was painful to watch.