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Sunday, February 08, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You... Because You're in a Crappy Movie

Like so many avid readers, I cringe a little when a favorite book is made into movie. When I heard that He’s Just Not That Into You was going Hollywood, I cringed more than usual – I was actually a little terrified. But I dutifully bought my tickets and waited on line to watch the movie on opening night with some girlfriends after which I realized I had been out of line cringing prior to the movie’s release. Vomiting would have been more appropriate.

The movie centers around Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), an innocent and adorable 20-something who is clearly deficient when it comes to the male gender and dating in general. The other women and men in her life get wrapped up into the mess and soon we’re learning about all of their messy relationships. In Baltimore, the "almost to DC" stop on the Acela, we are taken on a little trip through the 2-exciting-dimensions of our main characters.

Gigi, Beth, and Janine (Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, and Jennifer Connelly) work in the same office. What they do is of no importance, as we hear nothing about it except that it has something to do with nutmeg. The only excitement in the office is about men, the only conversations about men, and the only reason these women have to interact is about men. To call them "friends" grossly overstates their relationships with one another, but they are as close as this move comes to demonstrating that women sometimes want to hang out... but again, only to talk about men.

This is symptomatic of a larger issue I take with the movie – these women have nothing – nothing – going on in their lives. They don’t have hobbies, pals, exercise routines. Most don’t even have families, except in one case where the parents are used as a convenient path to get the man back into her life. Thank god for those men. These women simply don’t exist without them.

Granted, it’s a romantic comedy (or at least bills itself as such) so that there is a heavy focus on men isn’t a surprise, but the movie makers rested too heavily on the popularity of the book and the gullibility of women to shill HJNTIY. They give audiences no reason to be engaged in the characters, no reason to care if Craz... sorry, Gigi ever gets her man, except to prove the love rules of a comedian from the late 90s.

I was personally insulted that the producers, directors, and writers assumed that there is simply nothing else these women could do with their lives (read a book, maybe, go for a run, head to a museum) and that audiences would buy that. I was depressed to find out that the audience in my theater was exactly that demographic – they gasped when love came through, when exceptions to rules were made and marriage vows promised. They laughed at the jokes of "women" behavior – hair clogs in the drain, sweeping up their own angsty messes, blow-drying their hair. Oh the hilarity!

At the end of the day, the movie exists to make money, and I get that. But to make movie based on a self-help book, one would assume that the movie shares the goal of the book – to help women wise up to the silliness of some stereotypical behavior. I was actually a big fan of He’s Just Not That Into You because it pressed women to stop obsessing about men. He’ll let you know if he’s interested, if he’s not, don’t sweat it. I can get on board with that message.

The movie fails impress that logic into audiences. These women constantly obsess about men and dating, regardless of the irrationality of it. They openly make fools of themselves and justify it with "at least I still have hope" or some such nonsense. They break every rule laid out in this fairly reasonable book, but it’s ok because love prevails. Who cares if that love had to be ripped out of the man’s clenched, unyielding fists? He’s totally into you... or will be if you just try a little harder.


Meghan said...

i love-love this review. i say love-love because romantic comedies taught me i *really* mean in, if i say it twice.

Meghan said...

mean it*

Anonymous said...

I believe this review only having 2 comments (one being a typo correction) is a hint. I didn't enjoy your review and I did enjoy the movie. Yes, it had a few flaws but that doesn't make the entire movie bad. However, I guess some people will always see the glass as "half empty"...

Joelle said...

This makes me sad to hear cause i love the book-it totally led me to my husband- and the cast seems great. I'll let you know when I rent it in like 5 months because i don't ever get to the theater.

However, sadly, there are a whole bunch of people in the world with no goals and only an interest in dressing up to impress & get some. (Not all are as hardworking and driven as us PV gals!) But you know, it's an escapist movie, not a life changing one. Wouldn't it have been great if was, though.

Anonymous said...

OMG Anonymous, I totes agree. It wasn't horrible, and it taught me some good lessons, like:

a) I can do yoga *and* look at my phone at the same time (multi-tasking!)

b) All my close friends should be white. Minorities should only be in a few minutes of my life at a time with zingers, building my house, or letting me take my anger out on them.

c) I can settle for Jason Long.

d) Withhold cargoes, get engagement ring!

This movie was a lot like Bride Wars, and SATC. So many life lessons.

Cosmo half empty, Jesy and Meghan!

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, that movie was terrible. If any of your tricked yourselves into believing this was a worthwhile trip to the theatre, guess again. Good stars, horrible storyline, excellent review old friend...

Joelle, the book is at least 50 times better than this movie if not more. I promise you, stick with the book.

And really if this is one of the major things you took from the film "a) I can do yoga *and* look at my phone at the same time (multi-tasking!)" I weep for you.