It’s just not that terrible

While Susan’s absence continues to make RVANews’s heart grow fonder, Justin decides he actually kind of likes He’s Just Not That Into You (plus that he’s kind of in love with Ginnifer Goodwin).

notintoyouposter1Why do we love overgeneralizations about dating so much?

Is it an evolutionary thing? Our brains, hard coded by millions of years for basic mate-seeking, the bright deuterostome edge of which was subsequently reprogrammed by hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection for raw pattern recognition, are now trained to make us automatically snort and giggle whenever someone points out that girls love drama yet guys hate commitment.

Which is of course ridiculous: not all girls are that dramatic, and I know plenty of guys who have no problem committing. Isn’t the notorious “friend zone” just the exact same lack of commitment, stereotypically the lack of which comes from women, at a slightly different relationship phase? Then again, isn’t lack of commitment more desirable, like, to anyone? Isn’t that part of the potentially hard-coded, desire-inducing reason why we sometimes push people away? But yet am I really making any more sense right now with this second level of relationship overgeneralization abstraction, or am I just yet-again appealing to the intersection of the two top things human brains are designed to obtain: sex and organized information?

He’s Just Not That Into You is a movie that appeals to exactly this intersection, which is the best way I could think of to say “this movie is exactly like every other decent romantic comedy ever.” Honestly, we can end the review real quick if you’re urgently considering a ticket-purchase decision as we speak. Here, take this quick quiz (Each yes answer is 1 star):

  1. Do you own a Meg Ryan movie?
  2. Do you lose at least one hour of productivity per week at work discussing relationships (yours, other people’s, celebs’) (the one hour I assume you make up at lunch or after hours of course), and kind of wish it was somehow your job to discuss relationships full time? (If It is somehow your job to discuss relationships, even obliquely, and you intentionally chose that job for this reason, give yourself 2 points on your answer card and let me know where I can send my resume.)
  3. Have you seen Love Actually more than once, on purpose, because you thought it was cute and not because of any weird Bill Nighy issue?
  4. Did you get out a pen and tear a piece of paper out of a notebook to take this quiz, because you enthusiastically give things the benefit of the doubt even when they’re kind of dumb and derivative?

Tally them up. That’s the number of stars you’ll give this movie out of five. To see my score, see the top of this column.

In He’s Just Not That Into You, which I swear I’m actually going to talk about now, Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin, who adorably just inherited Meg Ryan’s career if she wants it) has a problem. She’s never really sure what the men in her dating life are trying to say to her, nonverbally, when they aren’t calling her back. This isn’t really her fault, though, because (we’re told quite early) women train each other to misinterpret relationship things. Anna, Beth, Janine, and Mary all have relationship problems too (Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, and Drew Barrymore, respectively, coincidentally also the cast of an impressive percentage of my intra- and post-adolescent daydreams), involving various relationship issues that aren’t quite their fault either, but they’re kind of vaguely not sure about whether it is (their fault), which may or may not be intended to be insightful.

Meanwhile, Conor, Alex, Ben, and Neil (Kevin Connolly, Justin Long, Bradley Cooper, and Ben Affleck) are, on the whole, relatively care- and introspection-free most of the movie, and have no idea that much of anything is really their fault, apparently in another nod to pseudo-insight. Arm the cliché-cannon, Hollywood, it’s time to crank out another romantic comedy.

But isn’t that kind of the point of the book? Maybe things really kind of are as simple as everyone kind of instinctually wants to try to make them. Maybe it’s enough for a movie to be cute and dumb and adorable and kind of funny but not that memorable. And though the inevitable bowtie ending is a little too cute, every once in a while, things do work out for some people in the end. The winking self introspection makes me entirely forgive the overgeneralizations and 129-minute running length. The theater full of giggling, happy women and big screen full of Ginnifer Goodwin didn’t hurt, either.

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Justin Morgan

Justin Morgan knows that there is no problem an Excel spreadsheet, a sweet tea, and a pass to the tight end won’t solve.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Justin might be the Ginnifer Goodwin of RVA News… :)

  2. I’m going to write a screenplay about men liking the movie “Love Actually” more than women do. It made me ill, but I can list many dudes who loved it. My mother likes everything and will buy it and watch it ten times a day and she hated “LA”, but for some reason it appeals to males. Weird?

  3. Wait. I was just about to respond to “What is the most romantic movie with Love Actually.


  4. It’s not that I grew out of these types of movies, it’s just that Woody Allen makes them so much better than anyone else. Kind of weird considering his whole…deal, but I will say that even though it contains at least one tiny Previn, “Hannah and her Sisters” is much better than this movie. I say that having not seen this movie.

    Also, “Happy Go Lucky” and many other Mike Leigh films deal with relationship issues without the over generalizations, and are actually more fun to watch as a result.

    Again, it’s worth noting that not only have I not seen this movie, but I also loved My Bloody Valentine 3D…a lot.

  5. Richard on said:


    I must take issue with your quiz/rating system; specifically, I question its accuracy as a predictive measure. For instance, I answered yes to one question, resulting in a predicted rating of one star. While I have not seen the movie in question, I do have a tendency to LOVE, however irrationally, any romantic comedy that comes my way. I LOVE them despite my disdain for manipulative plot structures and sloppy use of language. “ROM-COMS” have some of the least imaginative scripts (in terms of language and narrative) going. Formulaic indeed. (But what a great formula!)

    So…I’m going to go ahead and override both your rating and quiz and give this movie 18 stars. I have not seen it, nor do I know much about, but I’m pretty sure I know how and it ends, and it’s giving me a warm feeling.

  6. Sarah on said:

    I got a 0 on the quiz.
    I have no inclination to see this movie.

  7. We have tension in my household because of Love Actually, which is one of the top 5 worst movies of all time, but my husband loves it, which makes me upset, which makes him pouty, which makes me throw a dish, which makes him slam a door.

  8. Lindsay on said:

    Wait. I’m a girl and Love Actually is my favorite romantic comedy of all time.

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