Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tonight's Movie: He's Just Not That Into You (2009)

It's a rare rainy weekend in Southern California, which was perfect timing to head for a movie theater to see the new "chick flick" romantic comedy HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.

I hadn't been to see a "new" movie in a theater since INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, but this movie looked like enough fun to induce me to sit through a series of awful trailers, and I had a very good time, even while I was mentally shaking my head at the terrible choices made by so many of the film's characters.

HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU is a series of interrelated stories about dating and romantic relationships; most of the female characters are coworkers at a Baltimore spice company. Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is looking for Mr. Right, who might (or might not) turn out to be a friendly bartender (Justin Long) who gives her dating advice. Beth (Jennifer Aniston) wonders why Neil (Ben Affleck) won't marry her despite the fact they've been living together for seven years. Janine (Jennifer Connelly) has a husband (Bradley Cooper) who is sneaking around with a singer, Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who already has a boyfriend (Kevin Connolly). And Mary (Drew Barrymore) can't seem to get a relationship to move off of the Internet and into real life.

The actors are appealing, there are some great bits of humor, and it's quite an entertaining film. (The funniest moment, though, was when a woman in the audience audibly responded to a line by the cheating husband, which caused everyone in the theater to dissolve in a fit of laughter. That's the kind of thing you do miss when you watch a movie at home!) Part of the fun for me was also simply analyzing the characters' poor decisions...for instance, why would Neil want to bother marrying Beth if he could live with her for seven years without it? (!) The resolution of their story was perhaps the most unbelievable part of the movie, but in a nice way.

Despite my reservations about the characters' choices -- does anybody "wait" for marriage in this day and age? -- I liked the film and would watch it again.

The film was directed by Ken Kwapis. It runs 129 minutes. A trailer is here.

Parental advisory: I believe this PG-13 movie would have been rated R in the '70s or '80s. (How long has the "F" word been OK for PG-13 movies, anyway? I guess I don't see enough of them to have realized that was now considered PG-13 material. There was another phrase that surprised me, too.) We had researched it and thought it would be OK for my almost-14-year-old, but we were uncomfortable with how heavily sexual a couple of scenes were. There seems to be a fairly wide range of "acceptable" behavior in PG-13 movies. However, the movie did provide the starting point for a good discussion about morals and life choices at a post-movie dinner so I felt that ultimately the film had value in that regard.

Here's the review from the L.A. Times, which does a pretty good job assessing the film.

A final thought, on movie trailers: I adore trailers. In fact, one night when I was a teen my dad and I watched a couple hours' worth of trailers at UCLA's Royce Hall. I virtually always watch the trailer first when I purchase a DVD.

But it's at the point where I absolutely dread sitting through the trailers when I go to see a new movie, because it means sitting through so much crass garbage (case in point: I LOVE YOU, MAN). Our movie didn't begin until 15 minutes after the appointed time, and sitting through 10 or 15 minutes of disgusting language, body part "jokes," and violence is far too long. I resent being forced to watch offensive scenes from movies I would never consider seeing in a million years. Keeping trailers "family friendly" is a concept which seems to have gone with the wind.

Although I watched roughly 160 movies last year, I believe I only saw two "new" movies in theaters in the entire course of the year; in addition to INDIANA JONES, I saw MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY. Besides the lack of interesting movies to lure us to the movie theater, the trailers have become a major movie-going negative. If I'm at all iffy about seeing a movie, remembering tonight's trailer for I LOVE YOU, MAN may induce me to wait for the DVD next time I want to see a movie.

The one trailer I saw tonight that showed any promise: THE GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST with Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Michael Douglas.


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