He's Just Not That Into You
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Gigi wants to cut the nonsense.
Which is to say, she wants to be absolutely clear about who will call whom after a first date. Without this information, she might be forced to stalk a guy—or at least stage an "accidental" run-in.
This time around, her would-be Prince Charming is a real estate agent named Conor. There's just one problem: He hasn't called.
That's because Conor is interested in Anna, a yoga instructor and friend ... who occasionally sleeps with him. As Conor pines for something more with Anna, Gigi pours her heart out to a bartender who, it turns out, happens to know Conor. As quickly as he can pour her a drink, Alex becomes Gigi's ersatz love counselor. His hard advice? He's never going to call.
Beth on the other hand, is well beyond first dates. She wants to marry her live-in love, Neil. They've been together seven years, and she wonders if dodging marriage constitutes a crime against nature. But Neil is just dandy with cohabitation. In fact, he believes married people can't be trusted. The only reason these insecure people tie the knot, he opines, is because they have something to prove to everyone else.
Meanwhile, Ben and Janine are married—and feeling somewhat stifled in their mundane, sexless relationship. So when Ben meets bombshell Anna at a grocery store, he struggles to resist the temptation stirred by their instant chemistry. As does Anna. After all, off-limits Ben is way more intriguing than all-too-available Conor.
Then there's Anna's friend, Mary. Looking for love online, her modest hopes center around something as simple as a face-to-face conversation as she tries to avoid being rejected via digital technologies.
And that, according to this movie, is the way things are these days. Fluid ... and confusing, resulting in a tangled web of relationship drama that weaves together the lives of these nine people in various throes of lust, longing and singleness. Within that chaos and angst, one thread of immutable truth ties it all together: If he's not asking you out, he's just not that into you.
The friendships we see are open and caring, as characters navigate the murky waters of romance. The film's characters often encourage one another through doubts and tears. Even though many of them make morally problematic decisions, virtually all of them have positive moments when they offer support, empathy or wisdom to someone else. Whether it's Alex trying to help Gigi see the hard truths about the guys she likes or Janine and Beth coaching Gigi (they all work together), these friendships are full of empathy (even if wisdom itself is sometimes lacking).
The film encourages singles to be who they are without apology. Eager Gigi, for example, decides that she'd rather be vulnerable, honest and hopeful rather than close off possibilities for love. And Conor risks Anna's rejection by confessing that he really is interested in pursuing something more than just casual sex. Likewise, Alex eventually figures out that he's been afraid to risk really pursuing a woman. Beth eventually decides that she can no longer live with Neil if he's unwilling to marry her. So she breaks up with him, forcing him to move out of her apartment.
The movie's depiction of marriage is fairly complex, and I'll note a few good points about that here. (In "Other Negative Elements," I'll proffer the other side.) Ben and Janine initially seem to have the film's most stable relationship. After Ben first encounters Anna, he has a couple moments where he wisely chooses to avoid her because he's trying to be faithful to Janine. As things fall apart in their marriage, both Ben and Janine try to be honest—including Ben's unforced confession that he's cheated with Anna. Janine, in turn, is willing to give Ben a second chance after his infidelity.
[Spoiler Warning] Unfortunately, Ben decides his heart has drifted too far from his wife, and the result is a divorce. But the film depicts him as someone who's made a poor choice in this regard and Janine as someone who has the courage to go forward afterward. Perhaps offsetting this failed marriage, Neil eventually decides that the only way he can make Beth truly happy is to marry her.
Anna's approach to yoga includes Eastern spiritual elements. Her students sit in the lotus position as Anna closes a session with the word "Namaste," which can mean "I bow to you" or "I behold God within you." Beth meets a Wiccan at a wedding who mentions several tenets of his pagan belief system.
He's Just Not That Into You represents a thoroughly postmodern take on the purpose and place of sex. Which is to say, there's no necessary connection between sex and marriage. Physical intimacy is considered a given part of the relationship package—marriage or not. One man says that if a woman doesn't have sex with someone she's dating during the first two months, she doesn't really like him.
Much of the film's sexual content centers around Anna's affair with Ben. In one scene, she strips by a pool (we see a bare leg and watch her clothing fall), jumps in and invites him to join her (we see bare shoulders). His shirtless torso is visible when they're later shown in bed together. Another sexual encounter at his office involves him removing her dress and repeatedly groping her chest and backside. (She's seen in bra and underwear.) They're interrupted by Janine, who has come to visit her husband with a similar intention. She removes her dress, revealing her lingerie to Ben and moviegoers (as Anna hides in a closet), and it's implied that she and Ben have sex. After Janine leaves, Anna storms out, calling Ben a "disgusting excuse for a man."
It's also implied that Conor and Anna have sex. (They're shown in bed together.) Several couples kiss passionately. Women often wear cleavage-revealing outfits. There are several references to breasts.
Mary works for a newspaper, The Baltimore Blade, that's published primarily for a homosexual audience. She's apparently the only heterosexual employee, and scenes involve her getting romantic advice from male co-workers who embody virtually every stereotypical homosexual cliché. A newspaper ad shows several men unclothed from the waist up; another shows a woman's bare backside. Conor targets the homosexual community as a good potential market for several properties he's selling. Accordingly, an open house attracts many homosexual men. A couple of them discuss how their dating experience differs from that of heterosexuals. A woman uses frank, anatomical language to describe how modern women are increasingly like men.
One of Mary's male friends jokes about getting an erection. Neil quips that a painting looks like a "deflated boob." Anna makes a crude reference to simulated sex. Alex has an awkward conversation with a co-worker with whom he had sex while drunk. It's also implied that he was drunk when he describes sleeping with a woman whose backside looked bigger the morning after.
Janine smashes a mirror on the floor. A little boy shoves a girl to the ground.
Crude or Profane Language
One f-word, 25-30 s-words. Jesus' name is taken in vain twice; God's a dozen times. We hear a crude reference to the male anatomy and a dozen combined uses of "a--" and "a--hole." A character calls another a "douche bag." The boy who pushes the little girl compares her to "dog poo."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Much of the film takes place in bars. Pretty much everybody consumes alcohol regularly, both in bars and at home. Characters aren't ever shown drunk, though Alex does reference how 10 shots of a particular drink led to a "good time." Elsewhere, a plot point turns around the possibility that Ben has started smoking again and is hiding the fact from his wife. (She finds cigarette butts in one scene and a box of cigarettes in another.) Others are also shown smoking.
Other Negative Elements
Marriage is treated as both a desired outcome and a burden, with women longing for it and men mostly dreading it. Ben inadvertently calls a wedding a "funeral," for example. And even though several characters do value marriage, it's not necessarily considered a permanent, sacred commitment to be honored by others.
Mary believes the pursuit of true love trumps whether or not someone is married. So when Anna tells her about Ben, Mary encourages her to pursue him. She also says that plenty of married people have figured out that they actually belong with someone else.
Communication between men and women can be akin to two people speaking foreign languages. Like Chinese and Swahili. And no one more artfully analyzes, dissects, ponders and misconstrues a male's every nuance than a single female who is "into" him.
For example, when I was in third grade, a fifth-grader named Eddy strutted onto the playground and proved his undying love by grabbing my shoulder, slugging me in the arm and shouting "You're stupid!" I hit him back and screamed, "Get your grubby paws off of me!" Through it all, I was as twitterpated as an 8-year-old can be, because in girlspeak virtually anything a male says can be misinterpreted as, "Please spend the rest of your life with me." Thankfully, the recess monitor intervened before Eddy could place a ring on my finger—or pull my hair.
He's Just Not That Into You begins similarly, with young Gigi on the receiving end of a male bully's offensive remarks. In a misguided attempt to reassure her daughter, Gigi's mother insists that any attention, even violence, constitutes veiled interest: "It's because he likes you."
The movie rightly debunks that myth and offers another more realistic proverb of sorts in its place: What you see is what you get. Put simply, if he doesn't call, he's not interested. No exceptions.
That's the core message behind the hit 2004 self-help book He's Just Not That Into You, which served as the movie's inspiration. The book offers "The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys" and a woman's "Daily Wake-Up Call" that gives the hard facts regarding male disinterest. Call it tough love for a female's emotional health.
But tough love is a tough sell when it comes to Hollywood. And though much of the film affirms the book's main principle, in the end a fairy-tale ending carries the day. Emotional catharsis wins out over cold, hard reality, because—after all—who wants to pay $8 bucks for that?
To its credit, the film offers some positive commentary on what most people are really looking for. Female and male characters alike long for true commitment and intimacy, stability and meaning in their relationships. These are good things. And though the institution of marriage takes some hits, its value is arguably affirmed by that "happily ever after" twist at the end.
But that's hardly an endorsement of the film (or the book, for that matter) as a reliable roadmap to relational bliss. It might get a few things right, but He's Just Not That Into You is mostly content to reflect the worst of our culture's current ideas about love, sex and relationships—most of which are utterly disconnected from what Scripture has to say about these significant subjects. In that sense, the movie aptly illustrates Judges 17:6's pronouncement that "every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
Indeed, Neil, Beth, Mary, Janine, Ben, Conor, Gigi, Anna and Alex all do what is right in their own eyes. That's all they know how to do. So if you hope to find reliable guidance when it comes to life, love and the pursuit of that guy who just doesn't seem to be into you, you're going to need to look further than this latest bit of pop "wisdom."
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Ben Affleck as Neil; Jennifer Anniston as Beth; Drew Barrymore as Mary; Jennifer Connelly as Janine; Bradley Cooper as Ben; Kevin Connolly as Conor; Ginnifer Goodwin as Gigi; Scarlett Johansson as Anna; Justin Long as Alex
New Line Cinema