Review: In Regards to Your Movie, ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’

Yet another film riles me up enough to warrant sending an open letter to the people responsible. It turns out you can’t watch stereotypes whine about being gorgeously single for over two hours. Who knew?
By  · Published on February 7th, 2009

To Whom it May Concern:

I can’t imagine anything can hurt you at this point – your film is bound to make a disgusting amount of cash at the box office on name recognition alone. It’s the sort of cinematic equivalent of an artist crapping into a jar, labeling it “100% Pure Artist’s Shit,” and selling it to the highest bidder just because of whose DNA is fermenting inside. If you don’t like that example, my alternate simile is that your film is like if Michael Jordan wanted to perform surgery on someone just because he could.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start off by giving you props on what went right, so here it goes: the camera was pointed in the right direction, and the actors didn’t vomit every time they spoke their lines.

Let me see if I’ve got it right: a group of moronic stereotypes that in no way resemble actual human beings piss and moan about how dating is so gosh-darn golly-gee difficult for over two hours, and everyone learns a valuable lesson or something.

Make no mistake. You’ve made an atrocious film, but congratulations are in order. You’ve tackled a task that most people would think impossible. While some filmmakers stretch out a premise or a book adaptation, you’ve managed to stretch out a clever catch phrase that was popular half a decade ago into a feature length film. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by that. I, like most people, realize that the material you were adapting had no storyline to speak of, no decent characters, and (shockingly) no real advice to speak of except the repeated mantra of the holy-shit-look-how-witty-we-are title. You had bad source material, yet when most filmmakers would question moving forward, you boldly strode ahead, throwing as many recognizable actors into the mix as you could. Bravo!

First of all, who the hell speaks like any character in your film? Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Gigi sounds like she’s never gotten over not being invited to the 6th grade popular girl’s slumber party – a red flag that men shouldn’t date her anyway – and constantly bemoans the fact that she can’t figure out the cryptic signal a man sends when he never ever calls her, ever. Contrary to your gut instinct, this is not entertaining. Write that down for the next film you work on.

Secondly, I can’t figure out whether your film suffers from a severe case of miscasting or whether any actor would be able to work with the material you’ve saddled these people with. On the one hand, your characters are so stereotypically unbelievable that even Daniel Day-Lewis would have struggled to bring one of them to life. On the other, the actors you’ve hired would have difficulty putting on a regional theater version of this script, let alone carrying a studio-birthed feature.

But I can’t be all that unfair. Jennifer Connelly who, as you know, plays a woman whose husband is cheating on her with an untalented, delusional singer played by Scarlett Johansson (finally accurate casting). Connelly actually manages to bring some depth to her character through a method we laypeople call “acting.” Unfortunately, her acting skill shines a bright, bright light on the inequities of the rest of the cast.

And, since I’m on the topic of casting, here’s a quick economy lesson. The amount of characters you have is inversely proportionate to the amount of screen time and development they get. So you can see how it was impossible to develop any of the characters into likable facsimiles of real humans when there were approximately thirty-seven main characters. It’s a common mistake.

To the root of the problem, it feels like all of the male characters were written by a bitter chore of a woman after being stood up and polishing off a pint of Dublin Mudslide. The female characters were obviously dreamed up by that guy who spits big game about sleeping with the entire Laker Girl squad but failed to deliver an orgasm to either of the two women that let him get that far. You know that guy. I think his name’s Dustin.

The women are catty, whiny depressives with zero personality. The men are shallow, flippant and lack the emotional depth of a grapefruit spoon. Suddenly, I’m starting to think that you didn’t create this movie to be good, you created it as a two hour commercial for what I assume must be the inevitably forthcoming “No, Really, He’s Still Very Much Not Interested in You on a Romantic Level.” The title’s a bit cumbersome, but I’m sure it’s just a work in progress. You’ll get there. And you’ll sell a million copies, and everyone who buys one will continue to feel like shit about themselves. They’ll feel so bad that they’ll go see the movie adaptation, and holy crap I see where you’re going with this.

Enjoy the massive pile of cash. Invest some of it in writing and acting lessons.

Respectfully yours,

Cole Abaius

P.S. – I realize I didn’t speak much about you, director Ken Kwapis, but I have no idea what you did on this film. I’m fairly sure you could have been replaced by, say, Michael Jordan, and the film wouldn’t be that different, except Jordan can direct from the foul line. He has to stick his tongue out to do it, but when he does it, the crowd goes nuts.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.