Lame though I may have been regarding writing, it doesn't mean I haven't been doing my fair share of devouring various forms of media- films being one. The other day not I found myself in my local Blockbuster and was thrilled to discover that 1) I could rent 4 DVD's for 4 days for £10 and 2) three films I yearned to see were in stock. So, I rented The Young Victoria, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader and for my fourth I choose He's Just Not That Into You.
He's Just Not... didn't make the top 3 of the films I wanted to see, but I was intrigued by it for a few reasons. First, I've read bits and pieces of the book and found it to be an over-simplified handbook for women on the common sense of dating. The film was co-written by the book's author, Greg Behrendt. I was curious to see how a book, which was essentially a self-help book for lonely hearted women could be transformed into a collection of comedic stories about romance. Second, the cast was decent. I like Drew Barrymore and Ginnifer Goodwin. Bradley Cooper is hot. I've seen Jennifer Aniston do some pretty damn good acting in the film Friends with Money and Ben Affleck is decent depending on who he's playing and if he can pull it off. Finally, well....um.... let's just say it's a film I felt I should see at this particular time in my life.
For the most part the six slightly over-lapping stories which make up He’s Just Not... are funny, heart-warming and go along with the basic premise of the book. However, the main story just didn’t fit.
(Now at this point I must warn you, I'm going to ruin one of the little stories for you. So if you are planning on seeing the film and don't want to know how any bit of it ends, stop reading this now. Right, you've been warned.)
At the beginning of He's Just Not... we're introduced to 'our problem' which is narrated by the desperate Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin). Apparently, our problem, or more precisely the problem women have with dating, is that from the very beginning when we are but wee girls we are told that when a boy is mean to us it means they like us. Thus, we are programmed from the start to think that when a guy treats us badly they actually secretly like us. Now this makes sense... a bit. But of course as we all become adults guys stop being mean to the girls they like and it's all pretty straightforward right? Uh.....
Anyway, so poor, must-have-a-relationship-or-die Gigi goes out with Connor (Kevin Connoly). They date goes well and they say goodbye- no kiss just a "Nice to meet you," and Gigi waits anxiously for Connor to call. He doesn’t. (“If he’s not calling you…”) Eventually she decides to casually drop in to the bar where Connor hangs out and accidentally meets his roommate, Alex, (Justin Long) who manages the bar. It is there that Alex enlightens her to the rule, “If a guy is acting like he doesn’t give a shit, he generally doesn’t give a shit.” When Gigi tries to refute this by beginning a story illustrating the opposite, Alex interrupts her and points out that is a very rare exception and most of the time there are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. This is actually the primary point of Behrendt’s book. ‘Finally,’ I thought, ‘a realistic dating story,’ and was curious to see what would happen to Gigi.
Then, the story slowly goes into the toilet. It becomes typical romantic Hollywood crap. On fact it becomes the same crap that foster the illusion of the exceptions to the He’s Just Not… rule. Yup you guessed it. Eventually after developing a friendship where playboy Alex coaches boyfriend-seeking Gigi through her dating escapades, she gets the wrong idea from him. They then have a row, she says some pretty poignant things about his playboy behaviour and he comes to the realisation that he’s actually in love with her.
In real life they would have fought, probably not spoken for a while and both Gigi and Alex would have ended up the wiser for it. Their friendship may or may not have lasted, but they would never ever end up with each other. Ever!
Had this movie not been based on a book that instructs women to not over analyse but take things on face value, I would have had no problem with that unrealistic storyline. But this just seems to fly in the face of the point of Behrendt’s book. Okay so Hollywood does that sometimes, but as I said earlier this film was also co-written by Behrendt. What?? The man who wrote He’s Just Not That Into You and It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken would actually allow this storyline to happen?? And thus the author who seeks to shatter the delusions women create about dating, helps to foster one. I found that to be incredibly hypocritical. Yet this is a trite romantic comedy so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised.
And so, He’s Just Not... is an entertaining, fun and silly film (and Ben Affleck actually plays his character pretty well) but if you’re expecting it to be true to the basic premise of its namesake book because the author helped created the film, you will be very disappointed.
And now for something completely different, I’m watching The Reader.