Friday, February 6, 2009

The New Deal

Once upon a time, the episode of HBO’s Sex and the City titled “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little” aired, and inspired the revolutionary self-help best-seller known as He’s Just Not That Into You.

Written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo, a former executive story editor and writer on the show, the tome shone a light on the awful truths of dating, like if he’s not calling you…or marrying you…or sleeping with you, then – all together – he (or she) must not be that into you.

The movie by the same title is out today, and it’s a must-watch for two reasons.

First, the cast: When else are you going to watch such a good-looking ensemble, including Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore (an executive producer on it), Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly (HBO’s Entourage), Bradley Cooper (TV’s Alias), Ginnifer Goodwin (HBO’s Big Love), Scarlett Johansson, and Barrymore’s ex, Justin Long, in one movie?

Not soon enough.

And second, it’s given Saturday Night Live a reason to tap Cooper to host tomorrow night. Now, that little added extra is worth the price of the ticket.

But I know. I digress.

He’s Just Not That Into You tells the Baltimore-set interconnected stories of a group of people facing the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.

For instance, there’s Gigi (a radiant Goodwin), a wallflower-type who puts herself out there, but still can’t find a man to call her back. Is she trying too hard, or is she just plain ol’ unlucky in love?

Then there’s Beth (Aniston), a woman who has been in a relationship with Neil (Affleck) for seven years, but he’s still not proposing. Is he stalling, or is it never going to happen?

And there’s also Anna (Johansson), a femme fatale-type who’s stringing along Conor (Connolly), a good-boy realtor, and flirting with Ben (Cooper), an exec married to Janine (Connelly), a tightly wound co-worker of Gigi and Beth’s.

Look, He’s Just Not That Into You is a rom-com, and unfortunately, it’s a phenomenal one because the rom in it is so…calibrated, so…clean, so…precise, that it just falls short of something we can actually relate to. And the com in it, while insightful, is not ha ha! enough.

I still liked it, though.

But in a post-Rules, post-Sex and the City world, in which we (women and men) are supposed to be able to talk about feelings, I just did not think it really brought anything new to the table. Still, some of us need to watch this movie. Perhaps it can point us in the right direction, or perhaps it will make us smile. Often, that’s all you need.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Warner Bros.

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