He’s Just Not That Into You is a portmanteau film in a similar style to Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. It stars a host of Hollywood A-List stars like Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Anniston and Ben Affleck whose failing and troublesome love lives all intertwine. Like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, He’s Just Not That Into You began life as a self-help book before being adapted into a film.
The majority of He Just Not That Into You’s narrative thrust belongs to young, wide-eyed Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) whose attempts to find a relationship keep running aground because she is blissfully unaware of the ‘rules’ of dating. She relies on honesty and straight-forward behaviour, which is time and again ignored by men, this continues until she meets barman Alex (Justin Long) who explains where she is going wrong and tries to help her.
Alongside this main arc, from which the film gets it title there are sub-stories including a husband Ben (Cooper) who begins to fall for Anna (Johansson) even though he’s married to Janine (Jennifer Connelly). Anna meanwhile is loved by real estate agent Conor (Kevin Connolly) who seeks help from her good friend, advertising salesperson Mary (Drew Barrymore). All the stories link together through a series of relationships as is standard in a portmanteau piece. While interspersed in among these main stories are talking heads similar to those in When Harry Met Sally that talk about love, relationships and the rules of dating.
He’s Just Not That Into You’s greatest strength is not the fame of its cast, but the various narratives are handled, including some lovely nods to the films of John Hughes and a rather obvious homage to When Harry Met Sally. Each is given a certain amount of room to breathe and everyone in the cast gives a good account of themselves, notably Barrymore and Long. Even Affleck and Anniston shake off the baggage from previous films to give a thought-provoking turn as a couple in trouble.
Yet it’s not perfect. There are too many a-list stars cast in glorified supporting roles and the pace suffers because of it. Luckily there is more than enough interesting and engaging characters in the mix to counter-balance the lesser stories and the mindless pseudo-profundity. There are many reasons why a film based on a self-help book shouldn’t work and yet He’s Just Not That Into You manages the seemingly impossible and does a decent job of balancing the egos on display and just about squeezing all the stories into a normal running time.