A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romantic comedy, while often charming, reinforces the idea that being in a relationship is the surest way to be happy. Both male and female characters conform to fairly standard romcom "types," and while the movie attempts to shed fresh light on the ups and downs of dating, it all boils down to how men and women long for someone to love. Expect some mild nudity (nothing sensitive shown), swearing, and social drinking. The question of whether or not one character is smoking in secret plays a significant role in the movie. One storyline deals with infidelity, and there are a few heated exchanges between couples.
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What's the story?
Inspired by the best-selling self-help book from Sex and the City writers Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU follows the romantic ups and downs of several interconnected Baltimore characters. Taking center stage is loveable "girl next door" Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), who just wants to find the man of her dreams. But, sadly, she can't read guys' signals. After a ho-hum date with Conor (Kevin Connolly), it takes Conor's buddy, Alex (Justin Long), to set her straight, delivering the film's titular message: If a guy wants to spend time with you, he'll "make it happen." Otherwise, forget it. Meanwhile, Conor's in love with singer/yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who's hooked on Ben (Bradley Cooper), who happens to be married to Gigi's colleague, the high-strung Janine (Jennifer Connelly). Their office friend, Beth (Jennifer Aniston), is having relationship issues, too; her longtime boyfriend, Neil (Ben Affleck), loves her to pieces but just won't marry her. Rounding out the ensemble is Anna's pal, Mary (Drew Barrymore), who spends more time with her gay co-workers than with dates and who's befuddled by "advances" in technology -- texting, MySpace, email, voicemail -- that allow everyone to be in touch but seem to hinder actual connections.
Is it any good?
For a romantic comedy filled with predictable characters, HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU is surprisingly entertaining. The A-list ensemble definitely has something to do with that; they work well together to tell a story that, frankly, could have wound up a huge clichéd mess. Instead, it's pleasant and occasionally even perceptive. Goodwin, who has the heftiest part by a small margin, anchors the movie with a performance that's likable and empathetic. Her male counterpart, Long, is surprisingly affecting, too. He could easily have become a one-dimensional stereotype as the scold explaining how a woman should be able to tell if a man's not interested. And, as the wronged wife, Connelly adds some much-needed gravitas.
But for all that, the movie isn't particularly memorable. The book that inspired it has been out for a while (frankly, it was overexposed), and the "revelations" here hardly feel like epiphanies. The structure doesn't help; artificially divided into vignettes that ostensibly each explain a nugget of wisdom, the film lacks momentum. And with so many competing storylines, it also feels a bit crowded. Doing away with one thread -- or trimming a few -- would have allowed the others room to breathe and given the audience more opportunity to actually get to know some of its characters. As it stands, it feels a lot like speed dating, and audiences don't end up with Prince Charming in the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the film portrays dating and romance. Ask your teens if this is what they think adult relationships are really like.
Do the characters in the movie seem realistic, or are they exaggerated "types"? Are men really that unable to communicate? Are they really that insensitive? And is it really true that women can't -- or won't -- read their signs?
Do you think the women in the movie are more or less stereotyped than the men? Is that typical in Hollywood romantic comedies?
What do you think of the role that cigarettes and smoking play in the film? What's the impact of seeing smoking in movies?
- In theaters: February 6, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: June 2, 2009
- Cast: Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson
- Director: Ken Kwapis
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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