He's Just Not that into You
Directed By: Ken Kwapis
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennfer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Kris Kristofferson, Justin Long
He's Just Not that into You is an ensemble romantic comedy loosely adapted from a humorous self-help book about dating. It follows a large cast of characters connected through work, family, and historical friendship through a series of romantic travails. The lynchpin of the piece involves the hapless attempts by Gigi (Goodwin) to make it to a second date despite plenty of advice from her co-workers Janine (Connely) and Beth (Aniston) as well as helpful serial dating bartender Alex (Long). Meanwhile, Janine is in a dysfunctional marriage to Ben (Cooper), who is mulling over a dalliance with Anna (Johansson) who is ardently admired by Conor (Connolly). Beth is in a long term relationship with Ben's friend, Neil (Affleck), but can't stop obsessing over his refusal to consider marriage. Finally, Mary Harris (Barrymoore) is on a romantic losing streak of her own and somewhat overwhelmed by the myriad of modern ways she can face communication and rejection via texting, cellular phones, social networking sites and the like.
Did you ever see that romantic comedy where the protagonist was self-conscious and could not see the forest for the trees when it came to their own relationship? You know, the one where the same protagonist gets all kinds of advice from friends only to learn that nobody knows anything when it comes to matters of the heart? What? You've seen more than a hundred that fit that description? Well, here's a film that tries to be five or six of them at once. He's Just Not that into You's multiple mashed-up plot-lines do not really support or complement each other resulting in stories that never feel completely fleshed out. The charismatic cast does their best to breathe life into familiar situations and character types with the limited screen time they are provided, but it is largely an uphill battle.
That being said, the film is an inoffensive time passer that gets by almost entirely on the likability of its cast. Perhaps the highest compliment I can offer is that it felt a lot shorter than its two-hour plus running time. The ADD structure may prevent the film from being deep or memorable, but at least it is not boring.
As an aside, being a big fan of the televison show Ed I have to admit to some moments of geek enthusiasm for the numerous scenes between Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin who used to play a pair of charming high-school nerds on that program. The fact that my mind began to wander while watching the film and contemplate what sort of issues were holding up the release of Ed on DVD is probably an indication of how undemanding this film is despite its numerous plot threads and myriad characters.
The 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 video presentation on the top side of this "flipper " disc looks better than I expected for a 129 minute filmed crammed onto a single layer DVD side with extras and promos. This appears to have been accomplished via skilled compression and a light touch of filtering which only slightly reduces detail on large projection displays. There were rare instances of light aliasing shimmer and some sporadic ringing along high contrast edges (A scene between Affleck and Cooper on a boat is a prime offender), but they are the exceptions, not the rule. The flip-side offers a 4:3 reformatted presentation that I did not review.
The only audio option is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that presents the unambitious mix with very good fidelity. The mix is a standard romantic comedy affair that barely makes use of the surrounds and LFE, not even in scenes where it would make sense to create an immersive environment that take place in bars and clubs. The presentation on DVD has no significant issues. There is nice wide stereo separation of music and effects across the front channels with centered dialog. All mix elements are presented well-balanced with a pleasing range of frequency and decent dynamic range.
The only extra on this DVD are a collection of deleted scenes that can be watched via a "play all" selection (13:51) or separately via the DVD menu. They are presented in 4:3 letterboxed video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. They can be watched with or without audio commentary from director Ken Kwapis. The individual scenes are as follows:
- Birthday Party/Walk Home (4:55) - is an extensive sequence involving Anna and Conor visiting Anna' mother (played by Theresa Russell) on her birthday. Russell's character was completely deleted from the finished film, and this scene kicks off a mini arc for Anna and her Mom that is completed in a couple of the subsequent deleted scenes.
- Anna Visits her Mom (2:51) - Is another scene with Johansson and Russell in which they talk out some of their mother-daughter issues
- Anna's Song (1:41) - adds a bit of a coda to the Anna and her mother arc as she sings the Jeff Buckley song "Last Goodbye". Johansson's smoky voice actually sounds more suited to this than to many of the Tom Waits songs she recorded on the album she released
- Gigi's Date with Bill (3:01) - Reveals that Gigi's date late in the film did not go well, but was wisely deleted because the ending works better with the audience not knowing that
- Gay Pride Parade (1:21) - is an sequence where Conor meets Mary after an elaborately contrived series of circumstances lead to them standing on the same float in a gay pride parade. It was eventually replaced with a much more intimate and practical scene
When the disc is first spun-up, the viewer is greeted with the following promos presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound unless otherwise indicated below:
- Warner Blu-Ray Promo (Dolby Digital 5.1 - 1:09)
- Inkheart DVD Trailer (:33)
- 17 Again Theatrical Trailer(2:23)
- Anti-tobacco PSA comparing smokers to lab mice (:34)
The double-sided single-layered DVD-10 disc presents letterboxed and 4:3 reformatted versions of the film on separate sides of the disc with identical extras and promos. The disc is packaged in a standard Amaray-sized "Ecobox" hard case. Two paper inserts give the viewer instructions on how to access a reduced price Windows Media digital copy and promote the film's adult-alternative-oriented soundtrack.
He's Just Not that into You is a by the numbers ensemble romantic comedy which may please undemanding viewers due to its comfort-food-like familiarity, its large charismatic cast, and the variety of plot-lines that propel the film forward. It is presented on DVD with an A/V presentation only slightly hampered by being squeezed onto a single layered DVD side. Extras consist of some substantial deleted scenes with optional commentary from director Ken Kwapis.