The good thing about going into movies with low expectations is that you are rarely disappointed.
Since it is inspired by the ever-popular self-help guide by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (which was itself inspired by a single line of dialogue on “Sex and the City“), He’s Just Not That Into You automatically has hurdles of preconceptions to overcome. Thankfully, common aspects from each are only recognizable if the audience member is very familiar with both media; the film does a respectable job at standing on its own.
The movie operates on the premise that there are various myths and misinterpretations in the dating arena begging to be dispelled, and it employs a handful of intertwining stories to attempt to conquer all of them at once.
Depending on individual perspective, the movie may be insulting or flattering. In the pessimistic vein, the movie portrays nearly all women to be desperate and delusional. But from another viewpoint, they are also painted as hopeful, earnest and determined.
It is the unfortunate fact that when dealing with generalizations, reinforcement of stereotypes tends to be inevitable. The individual plotlines are well-worn tales of women waiting for a guy to call, hoping for a marriage proposal and obliviously trusting a cheating man. Though these inevitably do occur in the real world, the familiarity of witnessing them in character form is exhausting.
The movie’s tone is hard to pin down; as soon as one character says something unbelievably dense and cliché, another swoops in with a witty burst of humor.
The logic of the movie is at war with bigger ideologies regarding behavior and gender roles, but the main assertion seems simple. If a guy is interested in a girl (or “into” her, as the title colloquially phrases it), he will ask her out, he will call when he says he will, he will sleep with her, he will want to marry her and he will never cheat.
The events of the movie make this theory seem like common sense (and consequently, the women like blundering fools); however, a return to the real world brings the concept into further question.
The whole movie is spent emphasizing the inexplicable way women rationalize obvious signs of rejection. With the brief introduction of the under-explained “exception to the rule” in the last few minutes, it effectively backtracks upon itself and negates its entire intended message.
LAURA KROEGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.