Elevate Difference

He’s Just Not That Into You

He’s Just Not That Into You wasn’t a terrible movie. Despite its manipulative moments, this film did manage to skip many of the eye roll-inducing rom-com conventions. This movie just wasn’t that romantic or particularly funny. In fact, He’s Just Not That Into You is filled with disempowering messages.

Loosely based on the book of the same name, the story revolves around (yikes!) nine interconnected twenty- and thirty-somethings looking for love in Baltimore. Beth (Jennifer Aniston) has been living with Neil (Ben Affleck) for seven years and is anguished over his refusal to marry her. Beth works with Janine (Jennifer Connelly) who is unhappily married to Ben (Bradley Cooper), who eventually starts cheating on her with Anna (Scarlett Johansson). Anna receives dating advice from Mary (Drew Barrymore) who is so clueless that she isn’t aware that “MySpacing someone is the new booty call.” Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), who works with Beth and Janine, is on a quest for romance, which has her making an overeager fool of herself with the men she dates. Gigi starts getting brutally honest advice from Alex (Justin Long) after his buddy Conor (Kevin Connolly) blows her off after a date. Conor, coincidentally, feels unrequited love for Anna, even calling her right after his date with Gigi. (Anyone confused yet?)

Keeping up with the interlocking story arcs didn’t distract me from the anti-feminist messages. The women in this movie didn’t do much other than agonize over and obsess about relationships. Nearly every line of dialogue that comes out of the women’s mouths is about the men who are (and aren’t) in their lives.

I took offense to the fact that Gigi receives so much advice on how to act with men from a man who has made a second career out of loving and leaving women. While Gigi’s attempts to take things into her own hands make her look obsessive, immature, and just plain stupid, why couldn’t she have received this earth-shattering info about her behavior from female friends? After all, women co-wrote the book and the screenplay. What do Liz Tuccillo and Abby Kohn know that their female characters do not?

I also objected to Alex telling Gigi that if a man wants to be with a woman “he will make it happen.” In my opinion, this statement is really an underhanded way of telling women not to go after what they want. According to Alex, women shouldn’t be proactive in the dating game because men are the ones who green-light romances. The fact that Beth, who suggests that Gigi “break the rules” about dating, can’t get her man to commit to marriage only reinforces this idea. Alex also never once tells Gigi to worry about how much she actually likes the guys she dates, which, incidentally, is the best dating advice I ever got.

Another thing that bugged me about this film is the way gay men were depicted. While He’s Just Not That Into You passed on the stereotypical 'wise black woman' role, the screenwriters inserted no fewer than five mammy-esque gay men. Is there a law that states that gay men can only appear in mainstream Hollywood fare if they are providing straight people with a shoulder to cry on?

Sorry, folks. I’m just not that into this film.

Written by: Ebony Edwards-Ellis, February 9th 2009

If only the film was half as good as your review. ;-) It was so refreshing to hear a good feminist critique of a bad anti-feminist film.Kathleen Trigiani

Ebony,Great review, as always. LOVE the advice you received/passed along about actually gauging how much one likes who she's dating! That's brilliant. Thanks for not getting distracted from the movie's real message from the writers, which is--apparently--they're just not that into women empowerment. ~M.C. Schaefer