Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How to tell when "He's Just Not That Into You": Get the straight scoop from a guy!


I remember what it was like in Greenwich Village in the 70s, before email, when people were just getting answering machines. You called someone. If he had a roommate, the roommate took a message. If he didn’t call back, you knew that he just wasn’t that into you. It was tough to take, but OK if you had your own identity and own life.

So it is with straight people in Baltimore (it looks like Baltimore – did I get the location right?), with a cast of young adults to make potential couples. The ring leader is bar manager Alex (geek actor Justin Long), who purports to know when “He’s Just Not Into You” because he’s a guy. (Actually, there’s a similar wholesome character in “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” into just being a guy.) The overlong romantic comedy from New Line Cinema (I’m glad that Time Warner has kept the brand after all – and I wish Warner would to the same for Picturehouse) is directed by Ken Kwapis, written by Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein, based on a book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo ("He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys", from Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2009.

The cast is a disco who’s who: Gennifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly (as the opportunistic realtor Conor), Scarlet Johansson , “manly” Bradley Cooper (SNL), Ben Affleck, Jennofer Anisten, Jennifer Connolly. All that suggest a big pricetag (I would guess well over $50 million) with production company Flower Films.

The film is not quite “all’s well that end’s well”, but is is almost so. Divorce happens here, but so does new marriage. There is no real sense that the couplings come at anyone else’s expense, but gay people are always “hovering around”. There are pictures of “The Blade” (actually the Washington DC gay paper) and a party scene where a gay couple explains how rejection by gay men differs from rejection (of women) by straight men.

It seems odd to focus on the idea that men turn women down, but they do. Yet, Bradley Cooper’s character says it’s hard to give up other women to get married, but, when you’re in love, you do. In the end, this movie could have been envisioned by George Gilder (“Men and Marriage”).

A personal aside: Back in 1971, when I had my one period of heterosexual dating, I would stop calling when “I just wasn’t that into you.” So I did the guy thing. I’m struck, however, by the young couples: their insistence on their “right” to experience passion, leading to marriage and the “right” to mold the lives and relational priorities of their children, perhaps not aware of how dependent they are on the systems of others around them, even the LGBT people.

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