He's Just Not That Into You, and Neither Are We

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Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

Scarlett Johansson, left, and Drew Barrymore in He's Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You is like reliving your 20s, without any of the fun. It aims to be the Crash of rejection, weaving together nine interconnected tales of relationship woe and leaving no stone unturned in its effort to explore every facet of heterosexual mating. However, its viewpoint is severely restricted; all of its women love too much, while the men seem to be from somewhere around Uranus.

Consider the case of Baltimore copywriter Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin, of Big Love) and bar manager Alex (Justin Long, that cute guy from the Apple commercials). They meet while she's eagerly stalking his friend Conor (Kevin Connolly), a real estate broker she had one mediocre date with. Alex takes her hand and gently explains the rules of the game: "If a guy is treating you like he doesn't give a [expletive], he genuinely doesn't give a [expletive]."

Gigi begins to listen to him, and as he schools her on the ways of men — like Henry Higgins crossed with Dr. Phil — she grows fond of him. Which gives her ideas, because she is the sweetest little romantic fool who ever lived. In Big Love as Margene, Goodwin has shown she's a master of the marvelously naive. Gigi makes Margene seem as canny as Hillary Clinton. Every woman in this film gets her head pushed into the proverbial flushing toilet at least once, but poor Gigi has the distinction of being the most humiliated of them all. Somehow, Goodwin still manages to be winning.

Which is why, in this sea of misery, we would like it if things would work out for her with Alex. But when he speaks of women, there is a troubling lack of poetry; he stays optimistic by reminding himself there will always be another woman, "probably with smaller pores and bigger implants." Be still my beating heart.

Of all the couplings in the film, these two represent the smallest amount of star wattage. Maybe that's why they seem marginally more real than the rest of the celebrity wax fruit that adorns He's Just Not That Into You. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston play Neil and Beth, a couple who have been together for seven years. Neil still doesn't want to get married. For this, he is banished to live in unwashed squalor on his 44-ft. sailboat. I don't know about Neil the character, but Affleck the actor doesn't seem to mind much. His attitude toward this movie is roughly that of a man who stepped into a convenience store during a holdup and is now edging toward the door.

Meanwhile, over at an old row house that's being renovated into chilly modernity, Janine (Jennifer Connelly, an Oscar winner, in case you forgot) thumbs through issues of Dwell magazine and worries that her husband Ben (Bradley Cooper) is sneaking cigarettes. Ben's smoking should be the least of Janine's worries, given his flirtation with Anna (Scarlett Johansson), the world's most jiggly yoga instructor. The smarmy Ben and the self-involved Anna utterly deserve each other. What does the wan Janine deserve? For starters, a large portion of Baltimore's finest crab cakes; this formerly lush beauty appears to have been living exclusively on wallpaper paste during the lengthy renovation.

Besides his ability to draw big names — producer Drew Barrymore also wanders through, simpering — director Ken Kwapis can include fairness in his skill set. Pedro Almodovar would have picked sides (the women's, undoubtedly) and made you love them all. Cameron Crowe successfully endeared us to both sexes in Singles. In Kwapis' world, the scales of jerkdom go back and forth, finally tilting ever so slightly toward men when Kris Kristofferson, in the small role of Beth's father, announces that of his four daughters, she has always been his favorite.

But honestly, what should be expected from a movie that had its genesis with a single line on Sex and the City? When Carrie's boyfriend Berger said those six words to Miranda, he liberated her from the expectation that her prospective lover would ever call again. Sex and the City writers Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo then huffed and puffed them into a book-length instructional manual for women. After it became a best seller, there was really no choice but to make it into a movie. It was either that, a line of beauty products or a new religion.

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