Unfortunately the film did not make me feel any better - if anything it made me feel worse - nor did it teach me anything I didn't already know about men. So much of it was so obvious to me that I couldn't believe that some women really didn't know that stuff. I never personally read the book, but one of my friends said she not only read it but highlighted the hell out of it. This was both shocking and appalling to me, seeing as she seemed like a relatively intelligent woman who wouldn't need some stupid book to tell her when a guy didn't like her. But like I said, I haven't actually read it, so maybe it really does offer some helpful advice. (I do feel compelled to admit that I did see the episode of Sex And the City that inspired the book.)
Anyway, back to the movie... It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. That's not to say that it was good (because it wasn't) but I was pleasantly surprised at how almost-watchable it was. Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein did a pretty good job on the screenplay adaptation, all things considered. (I can't imagine it's easy to turn a self-help book into a romantic comedy.)
Before I go any further, here's the obligatory "Spoilers" warning. Yes, this review contains spoilers about the movie, including key elements about the ending. It probably doesn't matter... because if you actually ever wanted to see this film, you've probably already seen it. If you didn't have an interest in seeing this movie, you probably don't care if I ruin the ending. And if you were on the fence, my review will probably (hopefully) dissuade you from renting it. Okay, fine, just in case you still want to rent this after reading my review, I'll give another spoiler warning right before I ruin the not-so-surprising ending. Happy now!?
Anyway, one aspect of the film that bothered me was its overwhelming... whiteness. Seriously, that is one of the WHITEST movies ever. Just look at the cast... Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Connelly, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck, Busy Phillips, Kris Kristofferson... Not only is the cast all white, but they are the whitest white people on Earth. I mean, come on... Ben Affleck!? (For anyone who has seen Role Models, you know that if you're white, you're Ben Affleck.) Whitest cast ever.
There was a whopping total of four prominent people of color in that movie. Well, okay, I'm sure there are a few more walking around in the background like the uncredited Asian manicurist (of course) or actresses billed simply as "African Woman #1" and "Tokyo Girl #2". But I'm talking about people with actual lines and names and stuff.
They include Leonardo Nam, Wilson Cruz, Angela Shelton and Frances Callier. Shelton and Callier are in one scene, not as actual characters involved in the storylines but just little "interludes" of various people talking about guys just not being that into them. They of course, are the "sassy black women" put there solely for comic relief. Nam and Cruz are actual characters, but minor ones. Pretty much their only purpose is to support the storylines of the other characters. (They play Drew Barrymore's gay friends from work... so the casting directors got away with the double minority sweep there.) Other than that, the film might as well be an episode of Friends.
The story itself was well-intentioned. The film follows a handful of men and women (who ultimately cross over into each other's storylines) and their romantic endeavors, each relationship representing a "He's just not that into you if" lesson that I assume comes from the book. For example... the character Gigi (Goodwin) keeps misinterpreting signs that men give her. With the help of Alex (Long) she learns that "if he's not calling you"... then he's just not that into you.
The non-relationship between Conor (Connolly) and Anna (Johansson) represents "if he's not having sex with you" (well, she - it was actually refreshing to see the genders reversed on that one, even if Johansson can't act). The married couple Ben and Janine (Cooper and Connelly) represent "if he's sleeping with someone else"; the someone else being homewrecker Anna. Beth and Neil (Aniston and Affleck) represent "if he doesn't want to marry you". That one was pretty annoying because I personally believe that some people just don't want to get married, for valid reasons, and it's not always about how "into you" they are.
The hijinks between the various characters were relatively entertaining (well, except for the Anna and Ben stuff, that was just infuriating), even if they often made me roll my eyes. But the ending was hit and miss... Some of the "resolutions" were satisfying, albeit a bit sad. Okay here's the follow-up spoiler warning. I'm about the give away the ending to the movie. So if there's any chance you might still want to see it and don't want the ridiculous ending revealed, stop reading now.
The ending: Throughout the entire movie, Alex keeps telling Gigi to stop chasing guys that don't show interest in her (because she's "not the exception, she's the rule"). She misinterprets his advice for interest (basically ignoring his advice) and well, she gets rejected. But then the film ends with them getting together after all... because she is the exception... because he really was that into her all along and he just had no idea! Wellokaythen. It's nice to see them have a happy ending together, but it pretty much contradicts the entire fucking premise of the movie. In fact, this is a perfect example of the "third act twist" that is described in the film:
An equally infuriating "happy ending" comes for Beth and Neil. Neil doesn't believe in marriage, so after seven years together Beth broke up with him - because she finally came to her senses that he was never going to marry her. After her father (Kristofferson) has a heart attack, her sisters' husbands are shown to be useless assholes but Neil really comes through for her, even though they're not even together anymore.
Every movie we see, Every story we're told implores us to wait for it, the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule.It's obvious that he really is into her, he's just not into marriage. So she decides she would rather be with him, unmarried, than not with him, so they get back together. A marriage-obsessed woman finally gets over it and realizes that love is more important than paperwork... now that would've been the perfect ending. But of course, then he proposes. This also contradicts the rest of the movie, and well, makes no fucking sense because HE DOESN'T BELIEVE IN MARRIAGE!!
Why oh why would they spend 129 minutes basically telling us that if he hasn't married you after seven years, then he's not ever going to... have Neil outright say he doesn't ever want to marry her... and then have him fucking propose!? WTF!? Are they trying to make women crazy?
The rest of the ending did make sense, but I saw it coming from a mile away: Ben and Janine get a divorce, but not before Anna also dumps him for basically being a douchebag. Anna finally stops stringing Conor along and the last we see of him, he's flirting with Barrymore's character, who we are probably supposed to believe is way more perfect for him than Anna anyway.
Needless to say, the film didn't exactly do much to make me feel better about my predicament. I probably would've been better off renting John Tucker Must Die.