He's Just Not That Into You is the movie equivalent of watching somebody learn to juggle. A lot of things go into the air. Most are dropped. And afterward, there's the awkward silence of an entertainment that hasn't quite delivered.
The things dropped in this case are top-name actors, characters and situations. The movie with the long title, the longer cast list and the insanely long running time (2 hours, 9 minutes) has a lot going on — and not enough of it very funny.
Not That Into You is an ensemble relationship comedy about "miscommunication." It's full of men who are callous, tactless, commitment-phobic cheaters. The women? Clinging, predatory, nagging and too often clueless about "the signals" the opposite sex is sending when a guy says "I'll call" but doesn't.
This Baltimore-set cluster of interconnected relationships spins around Gigi, played by Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love) with open-faced warmth and naked neediness. She can't help but scare guys off.
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One of the frightened is Conor (Kevin Connolly of Entourage). He pines for Anna (Scarlett Johansson) and is pals with Alex (Justin Long), a sympathetic bartender who tries to set Gigi straight about men's semantic tricks. Because Gigi and her office mates Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Beth (Jennifer Aniston) are too quick to trot out anecdotes about guys who didn't call right away, or who didn't call at all but still wound up being Mr. Right. The women are blaming themselves and making excuses for heels who say, "It's not you, it's me."
Janine is micro-managing a home renovation while her husband (Bradley Cooper) is fighting the urge to cheat with Anna, who puts "he might be the love of my life" ahead of scruples about stealing another woman's husband.
And Beth can't get her loving, doting man of seven years (Ben Affleck) to marry her.
There isn't much chemistry, thanks to the limited screen time the couples have to share with many other couples. Many of the players are old pros at this sort of material, but only Drew Barrymore, as a sales rep at a gay magazine, lands consistent laughs. She makes her riff on texting, MySpace, Facebook, voice mail — "just to get rejected by seven different technologies, it's exhausting" — sing.
The slow-handed juggler here is director Ken Kwapis of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and License to Wed. He has all these characters, a wedding and a near-funeral, yet somehow figured he had the time for all these little e_SDHp(sometimes funny) relationship monologues by strangers, directed to the camera. A male-female screenwriting team working from a male-female co-written relationship book doesn't give the story balance. It's sexist and mildly offensive, and too long and not funny enough to overcome any of those.
Aniston's fans might relish seeing her suffer dashed romantic dreams at the hands of a man (again). But for the rest of us, there's not enough to get into He's Just Not that Into You.