It would be easy to damn He’s Just Not That Into You with very faint praise, so here goes: if you see one film based on a self-help book inspired by a line from Sex and the City, then make it this one. The line in question was from the episode Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little. Carrie’s boyfriend Jack Berger told Miranda that her potential love interest wasn’t playing hard to get. “He’s just not that into you.”
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? If a guy is acting like he’s not that into you, then he’s not that into you. He isn’t busy, or being enigmatic on purpose, he hasn’t lost his phone or gone on holiday. He is just. Not. That. Into. You. “We do not need dating homework and pop culture self-hatred,” seethed Tanya Gold on the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog. But come on. How many people can actually recognise when someone else – male, female, whatever – is not that into them? We all do it. We overanalyse the “signs”, we wait for people to call, we make tits of ourselves or we let others make tits of themselves because we don’t have the guts to tell them we’re not interested.
The fact it rings painfully true doesn’t make this a particularly great film, mind. It’s an ensemble affair, but not done nearly as skilfully as Love Actually – and if you didn’t think that was skilful you’re liable to hate this. Gigi (Goodwin) is obsessing over Conor (Kevin Connolly), who hasn’t called like he said he would because he’s into Anna (Johsansson), who’s having an affair with Ben (Cooper), who’s married to Janine (Jennifer Connolly). Neil (Affleck) loves his girlfriend Beth (Aniston) but doesn’t want to marry her. And Mary (Barrymore) hasn’t found the right guy yet, possibly because she’s mainly looking on MySpace.
All of which is a bit busy and muddled. Some say it’s patronising and insulting to women, and it does have its moments. Some of these women are so obsessed with getting married they make their boyfriends choose between tying the knot or breaking up. But we’ve all been the person trying to read the “signs”, or been the person having to listen as they drone on about the “signs”, or been the person who isn’t giving off any signs, actually, and would like you to please take the hint and stop calling. It’s not really date movie fodder (come on, it’s a film about overanalysing everything) and it’s hardly a masterpiece of cinema. But it’s a passable chick flick, and as a reflection of the stupid, stupid things human beings do, it’s spot on.