Proof that you really can do less with more
Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com
Director: Ken Kwapis
Notable Cast: Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, Kevin Connolly, Scarlett Johansson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long, Jennifer Aniston, Kris Kristofferson
With multiple Oscar winners and nominees, as well as plenty of talent and a script based off a best-selling book, He’s Just Not That Into You would seemingly have an advantage over the usual suspects in the first quarter of the year. But sadly it’s a film that’s hard to get into because of the sheer volume of storylines to handle. Much like 2006’s Trust The Man, this is another film that probably would work more effectively on the small screen than the big screen just due to the sheer size of it.
Beth (Jennifer Aniston) and Neil (Ben Affleck) are a couple who have been together for seven years but haven’t quite pulled the trigger on getting married. Beth desperately wants to, seeing her friends and sisters get married, but Neil is dead-set against the idea. Beth has two co-workers with interesting love problems of their own. Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is desperate to the point where she clings to anyone who shows any sort of interest. Janine (Jennifer Connelly) is married to Ben (Bradley Cooper). Their marriage is functional but he has a wandering eye for the alluring Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who is also seeing Conor (Kevin Connolly). Conor’s best friend Alex (Justin Long) seems to be a focal point for Gigi, as a chance encounter at his bar gives him a chance to enlighten her into the dating game. Throw in Mary (Drew Barrymore) as a ubiquitous friend who utilizes technology to avoid dating and you have one of the more stellar casts in recent memory.
And with all this going on, two hours doesn’t really seem enough. Seemingly condensed into a running time of two hours, there’s so much going on one could use a scorecard to keep track of it all. Even the more astute viewer can get confused as the film tries to do so much with so many people that it winds up doing less than it sets out to. We only get bits and pieces as Ken Kwapis, who has helmed ensemble pieces before successfully, seems to try and keep as many people in the spotlight as possible and juggling that much is too much for him. One suspects it would be too much for any director and the film has an awkward pace. For the first act it builds slow, steps up the pace midway through and then goes exceptionally fast for the last 20 minutes or so. Kwapis seems to be going for an additional 30 minutes to an hour and probably had to cut a lot from the film to get it to a 129 minute running time.
It does try to go outside the box and not be a typical “chick flick” by incorporating the male characters into roles that don’t require them to be antagonists. It’s refreshing to see that when Ben cheats on his wife, we can see why. We don’t sympathize, but he’s not painted as this adulterous monster or serial philanderer doing it for a cheap thrill on a Saturday night. The film does try and give everyone a point of view that’s rational and logical, but that’s part of its failings. By trying to do so much it accomplishes little. It makes all five of the film’s main storylines fall a bit flat as well.
There isn’t enough time to get to know all the characters as well as we need to do for the sheer volume of storylines provided. Each character seemingly has one personality quark and that’s their main identifier. With a cast this size and this talented it’s underwhelming; you could have had a cast of unknowns with several of the major stars and received approximately the same results. For as much good will as He’s Just Not That Into You gets by trying to go outside the box, it doesn’t do enough of it.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):
Tags: Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Long, Kevin Connolly, Scarlett Johansson