Posted in movies, Reviews

DVD Review: He Might Not Be Into You, But I Was Totally Into the Movie


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.

Posted in Advice

Little Fifteen: What advice would I give Little Me about boys?


I like Amy Poehler a lot.  I like that she is smart before anything else, and funny after that.  I like her Ask Amy series of advice vlogs for girls, and I think most of her answers are charming and helpful.  In a recent vlog, she answered a question from a 15 year old girl, who wanted to know how to get boys to notice her.  The girl said she had tried everything–being just friends, and trying to be attractive–and it wasn’t working.  Amy’s advice was “stop trying.”  I would like to expound on that thought.

Teenagers are funny, special creatures with the enthusiasm, hopefulness and energy of small children in the bodies of adults.  They have the capacity to think and reason like adults, but are awash with brain chemicals that make it biologically impossible to behave like them.  They are caught in between worlds, where the only people who can truly understand them are their equally as biologically whacked out peers.  The best adults can do is empathize and try to remember how it felt.

Do you remember 15?  Ugh.  You’re too young to drive, too old to want to be with your parents on a Saturday night, but you might still secretly want a snuggle with your mom.  What your peers think of you means a lot.  I had the fortune of having changed schools so many times that I was somewhat inoculated against the full-force concern of how I was regarded.  I was used to being regarded as an outsider–interesting at best, an interloper at worst.  And, I never figured I was going to be anywhere long enough for it to matter.  So, aside from (or maybe because of) that devastating year in 6th grade, the other kids were never my biggest problem.

Still, I wanted to be liked.  I wanted to be noticed.  And most of all, I wanted to be liked and noticed by boys.  I remember that really well.  Really, really well.

So here’s what I would tell 15 year old me:

Fifteen-year-old Lane.  Braces, check.  Bad hair, check.  Frightening 80s fashion, check.  Date to Homecoming, THANK GOD, check.
Fifteen-year-old Lane. Braces, check. Bad hair, check. Frightening 80s fashion, check. What this child needed was some style advice.

 

  1. Little Bad-Haired Lane, better than half of what you are feeling is hormonal and it is 100% normal.  It is good and healthy that you want boys* to like you.  You aren’t going to be able to stop that feeling or desire because you aren’t consciously making it happen.  Chemicals are doing this to you.  It is a biological imperative.  Nature is driving your impulses so that you will want to procreate and propagate the species.
  2. Before we go any further, I want to be sure that you understand that Biological Imperative, and Good/Healthy, and Normal are not license to bareback every boy who offers to take you behind the bike racks.  Those boys are dealing with similar biological imperatives, and, like you do not have the impulse control or long-term thinking ability required to deal with the results of unprotected or risky sexual behaviors.  I highly recommend that you hold off on any activity that could result in a baby until you are financially prepared to deal with those consequences, i.e., you have a full-time job with maternity leave.  Do whatever else you want (taking appropriate precaution to avoid the Herp and the Derp), but avoid any sperm to egg contact until you can pay for your own zygote.  Yes, my brace-faced darling, we will have this part of the conversation every time we talk about anything remotely romantic.
  3. All right.  We have out of the way that you are normal for feeling desperate for this attention, and that it isn’t a great idea to get pregnant right now.  What’s next?  You want boys to like you, but don’t know how to make them.  Well, here is a sad truth:  You cannot make anyone like you.  We’ve covered before how that doesn’t mean  you aren’t worthwhile, but you are a teenager with cheese in your brain so you might want a refresher.  Letting boys get physical with you won’t make them like YOU.  It will make them like your willingness to get physical.  Changing your looks won’t make a boy like YOU.  It might make them like how you look, but that isn’t the same thing as who you are.
  4. TV, books and movies might have given you the idea that if you could just tweak something about your appearance, you could conceivably get a boy to pay attention to your looks long enough to get to know the real you, and fall in love.  This is a lie.  Boys at your age do not have attention spans appropriate to this ruse.  I just want to be sure you understand this, Four-Eyed Lane, so that you won’t miss out on lectures because you are afraid Jeff will see you with your glasses on, and forget that he was falling in love with the color of your eyes.
  5. People–all people–are attracted to confidence and passion.  Find something you are good at and love doing, and do it.  You will attract boys and girls because everyone wants to be around someone who is active and happy about it.  You will attract boys and girls who also love to do what you are doing, so you’ll have something in common other than Genus, which is particularly helpful in making any kind of relationship last longer than week.  Bonus: You’ll be doing something you love, and that will make you happy, and you won’t feel that same desperation of need.  Doing things you like changes your brain chemistry, and helps balance out all those chemicals that are making you want to make out with that guy you don’t even like behind the stage curtain at the school play, just because he’s given you the time of day.  So, my little Drama Geek, keep acting!
  6. Treat boys like you want to be treated.  Don’t treat them like Pokemon.  They are not there for you to catch.  I realize that at your age, Confuzzled Lane, you want boys to want to chase you.  You want to be the Daphne to their Apollo–but remember how that went for Daphne.  Remember how those chases turned out for EVERY woman in Greek mythology.  Yes, it is thrilling to be desired, but then what?  You are fifteen.  “Then what” is you go home and do your homework and snarl at your mother because she won’t let you stay out all night.  Or go out period because it is a weekday.
  7. Finally, if you want someone like to like you, do things that are likable.  I don’t mean flash your panties or give out free cupcakes.  I mean find ways to make a difference in the world.  Get involved helping people who are helpless.  Get involved visiting seniors at the local nursing home.  Get involved with a soup kitchen.  Get involved as a volunteer at the local hospital.  Find a way to make yourself useful.  Just like in #5, this will attract people to you because everyone loves a helper.  Bonus:  You’ll feel good about yourself because helping feels amazing.  And, you’ll gain some perspective on your own issues.  Fifteen-year-old Lane, you don’t know this yet because you are right now in the middle of all your volunteer activities, but I can tell you from almost 30 years down the road, you are building yourself a strong interior infrastructure, and your Elder Self appreciates the heart you have for others.  It’s one of your best features.  Just ask anyone who loves you.

I’m sure Amy would say this in a funnier, shorter way, but that’s what I would tell me.  It’s okay to want.  It’s okay to need. There is no magic bullet–it takes time and effort to achieve anything you desire.   But the best ways to bring it all home to you are to get out and be who you are, and help people with what you have.  The most attractive things in the world are confidence and compassion, and when you build those into your life with balance, the most wonderful people want to be around you.

 

*That is not to say that it is not good and/or healthy for anyone else to want their same gender to like them.  I’m hetero, so that’s what is good and healthy for me.  You get on with your bad self if you like something else!  Just remember that whatever your something else is, it needs to be human, consenting, and age appropriate according to the law.

Posted in Uncategorized

Dating Advice


If you are thinking of making a commitment in a relationship, take a road trip. The drive should last at least six hours. Any less, and you and your intended can still pretend to be nice people. If you really want to test it out, take a pet or a small child, and try to find the worst traffic patterns or weather available. If, after the end of your drive, you can still look at the other person and smile with sincerity, that relationship is a keeper. Otherwise? Move on. My husband, son and I have just returned from another of our semi-spontaneous road trips. I haven’t stopped smiling yet. (You could accomplish the same thing in an airport, but that’s drastic. B and I have even managed to have fun in airports, with an infant. It’s true love.)

I met my husband on New Year’s Eve, 2001. By New Year’s Day, 2002, I had a crush on him. We were dating by January 24, and got married exactly two years from that first date. Now, I had dated a string of decent fellows and losers, and everyone knows what not to look for in a man, so I’m going to tell you some of the things B did right.


He was nice to waiters.

Always watch how someone treats the staff. If he or she is rude, demeaning, or superior to those serving him or her, that person is not worth your time. If you are the one being rude, check your attitude, honey. It ain’t easy slinging hash for a living. I’ve done it (at Denny’s even!), and nearly every member of my family has done it. That young man you’re giving a hard time might be my nephew, which means you don’t want me to know about it. Capiche?

He was good to his parents, and good to mine.
Watch how a person treats their parents. I met B’s family about a month into dating him, after the memorial service for his grandmother. That’s a great story, actually. He called and asked me if I could join them for dinner at the club. As much as I wish I had grown up as a debutante, I was working at Denny’s (see above) when my classmates were having their coming out parties. Thus and so, I had never been to the club. I was panicked. Meeting the parents? At the club? What would I wear?

I worried about what to wear for three days, finally buying this beautiful dress on my lunch hour the day of, and on my way back to work, my car broke down. I got towed into the dealership, where I promptly fell down the stairs, scraping the hide off my legs from the top of my feet all the way up to my knees. My first thought, “Now what am I going to wear?!”

When I met B’s parents and one of his Uncle/Aunt combos, I was really warmed by how he interacted with them. He was comfortable. He was at ease. He seemed to genuinely like them, and they liked him.

Not every family works that way. You couldn’t get my whole family in a room together if I was getting married–that is, I wouldn’t let them in a room together. I’m not stupid. If you are with someone whose relationships are strained, just look to see that they are treating the situation with respect. But do watch. The way people treat their families is the way you can expect to be treated, should you become their family.

He didn’t sweat the small stuff
I grew up in a family full of hotheads. Tempers flaring everywhere. Mountains made out of every molehill. That was how I expected a man to act. The man I almost married acted that way. The man I did marry? Nah. He saves his temper for when it is necessary, and waves off the rest. Crying over spilled milk? Never. He just gets it cleaned up.

Really pay attention to that temper. Is this someone who is going to lose it and backhand you into next Tuesday? Is this someone who is going to meltdown at the first sign of a problem? Or is this someone who can handle his or her emotions? If he OR she is a hitter, get off the boat.

He had good friends, who were good people, and he treated my friends well.
I’ll tell you what, B’s group of friends are some of the best men I know. I mean that. These are good guys and are exactly the kinds of men you always want to fix up with your really great girlfriends–the kinds of guys you don’t think exist outside of television and movies. Seriously. There is a Ross, a Ted, a Marshall, a Leonard, a Chuck…you get the picture.

The NYE party where I met B, was thrown by one of his friends. Another of his friends was dating (and later married) Renae. Our two friend groups mixed up well enough to travel together, and mix and match for parties and gatherings.

Your friend group says a lot about you. B’s friend group said he was Captain Awesome.

All that stuff makes a difference when you’re living with someone 24/7, and know you’ve got 60 or 70 more years ahead of you. We’re all human, and we all do idiotic things to each other now and then. If we’re partnered with good people, we’ll be better people in how we act and handle their humanity. B’s got his work cut out for him, living with me. Oh, I’m a good catch, but I’m also kind of a brat. I try to make it worth his while.

I hope all of you who want them, find your Mr. and Ms. Rights. I certainly enjoy mine.

Posted in Uncategorized

Twu Wove


“Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us together today.”  –Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride
I waited a long time to get married.  Prior to meeting B, I had one near miss.  I am thankful every day for having dodged that bullet.  As far as I am concerned, that two other poor women married that sucker is proof that God does have favorites, and I am one of them.  But, I waited a long time.
While I was single and hoping, I heard a lot of advice about dating.  There were the advocates of online matchmaking (dating websites, web forums, chat groups), group dating, blind dating, and not dating at all (and trusting God to drop the man of your dreams on your doorstep.)  I think I got a lecture from and about every one of them.
There were also those who advocated making a list of what you wanted in a man, and trusting the Universe, or God, or The Secret, to bring him to you, right down to the part in his hair.  I made a list, but I could never decide what he should look like.  My list kept getting longer and longer, and I was feeling more and more ridiculous.  I mean, the list isn’t a bad idea because it helps you figure out what is important to you in a relationship, but hair color just isn’t a big deal, and I didn’t care what he did for a living, so long as I didn’t have to support him.
I was finally exasperated with my list and narrowed it down to this:  I want to marry a man with whom I can be 100% myself, without feeling shy or embarrassed, or like I should change.  He should feel the same way around me.
After all, what is better than that friend who loves you exactly as you are, and who doesn’t mind if you forget where Singapore is once and a while?  Nothing.
B, Andy, Scott, and Mark, somewhere between 2001--2002

When I met B, I liked him instantly.  He seemed very comfortable in his own skin, wasn’t putting on airs or trying to be anything he wasn’t, and he had a group of friends to be envied.  We met at Mark’s NYE party on December 31, 2001.  We had our first date 23 days later on January 24, 2002.  Exactly two years later, we married each other.

Today, B and I spent the day with Thor, sitting in the middle of a creek.  We had to hike out to a low point first, then we waded out hip deep to find a rock, and we sat down in a tangle of legs and wet clothes, leaning against each others backs, and we listened to the world go by.  It was one of those perfect days.  Just the three of us together, doing something silly.  Days like today make me love him even more.

I used to be afraid that if anyone ever really got to know me, it would be impossible for them to like me, much less love me.  I used to be afraid that when B had lived with me long enough, and found out enough about me, he would leave.  Somewhere in the last year, he made magic happen.  I’m not afraid of that anymore.  I’m not afraid of myself anymore.  It’s a lot bigger than it sounds in print.  I found out that at my worst, I’m really not so bad.  And in striving to be my most livable best, I’ve become better.

I married a man who let me be 100% myself, and in doing so, I’ve grown 100% comfortable in my own skin.  Frankly, I think that’s the best you can get out of marriage.