Wednesday, August 04, 2010

He's Just Not That Into You - Movie Review

Director: Ken Kwapis, 2009

Pros: showed several types of relationships (including a gay relationship in a positive light), showed several types of men (jerks, decent guys, beer drinking sports fans, players), realistic and practical advice

Cons: all of the women were portrayed as needy and obsessed with marriage, ending had a mixed message (explained in spoiler section)

He's Just Not That Into You was based on the book by that name written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book was designed to show women that they often delude themselves into believing men have more interest in them then they do. Once women realize this, they can move on.

The film starts with an interesting, and unfortunately true, image. A little girl is insulted by a boy and told by her mother that this means he likes her. Seriously. And this HAPPENS. I remember being told and telling this very same, very pervasive lie. When women are trained to believe that being treated badly is a sign of love what sort of relationships will they settle for?

And the movie brings this out well. The film is told through several storylines that converge at various points in the film. There's the office worker desperate for a relationship who obsesses over guys, constantly waiting for her most recent date to call and making excuses for why he hasn't. There's the sexy babe who's convinced she's met her perfect mate, even though he's already married. There's the couple who have lived together for years, but the woman wants a ring and he dislikes the concept of marriage. And there's the player who teaches lady #1 that the guys she's dating just aren't that into her. And why.

Periodically the action stops as a group of people are asked a question posed in the book. It's an interesting technique and works some of the time. The pauses draw attention to whatever misconception, is going to come next, providing some measure of foreshadowing.

The storylines are interesting. Some characters grow and change, some stay the same or even regress with regards to their relationships. And not everyone ends up happily connected at the end.

I liked how the portrayal of men was varied. There was the guy willing to cheat on his wife, the guy who wouldn't dream of cheating on his girlfriend, the guy who treated women like dirt, the guy who was the perfect friend, gay guys giving advice and the jocks who would rather watch TV then help out around the house.

The women were less varied. All women are apparently obsessed with relationships and marriage. I disagree. It worked for the film but I think it did a disservice, ignoring that some women are happy alone and are more interested in their careers than starting a family.

If you haven't seen the film and don't want the spoilers, stop here. The movie had enough funny parts that my husband wasn't bored and enough truths that most women should watch it because we perpetuate a lot of myths about relationships, and a healthy relationship doesn't include myths like 'he treats me badly because he loves me' (and vice versa).

**** SPOILERS ****

I liked most of the ending. I was glad the woman who broke up the married couple didn't end up with the man. Her actions proved she wasn't mature enough to have a relationship, so seeing her realize that and decide to be on her own for a while worked for me. I also liked how the nice guy she confided in and used as an occasional sex partner eventually moved on and found someone who would appreciate him for who he was.

My complaint with the ending dealt with the couple who'd lived together for years and broke up because the woman wanted to get married. The film was very clear about showing that a committed relationship is worth more than a piece of paper. I know two couples wherein the 'husband''s parents went through a messy divorce so the IDEA of marriage doesn't appeal to them. Despite not being married their relationships are committed and monogamous. And that's fine. I think it would have validated those types of relationships had the couple in the film decided that the marriage paper wasn't the most important thing to them, their love was. By having them get married it showed that no matter how much they loved each other, that paper and ceremony were more important. And it showed the woman's desire to have the marriage ceremony as more important than his deep sated (though unexplained) dislike of the institution. Marriage and relationships are all about compromise, and the wedding scene upset the compromise they'd made in their reconciliation scene.

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