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He’s Just Not That Into You: And Neither Are We

The phrase, the book, and the movie are all well past their amuse-by date.

by
Kyle Smith

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February 6, 2009 - 12:15 am
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There are a lot of smiles on the poster for He’s Just Not That Into You. I count seven grins plus a smirk, all for a movie about … rejection? Why not make an airy romantic comedy called You’ve Got Melanoma or When Harry Met Misery?

A catchphrase can go surprisingly far in American life. This one went too far a couple of years ago, and it just kept going. But where’s the beef? The line was fine to sustain an episode of Sex and the City, questionable when it gave rise to a terrible book of the same name (plus a sequel), and very strange indeed when it led to a brief talk-show-hosting gig for its author Greg Behrendt (who wrote the book with Liz Tuccillo). It is now insufferable as a full-length movie that has no sense of humor, no romantic chemistry in any of its pairings, and almost no characters — except for nice-looking bland people who either spout variations of the catchphrase or are recipients of it. We stand fortunate that a catchphrase cannot, at least not yet, run for president. (Or maybe one already has, and won? I’d prefer not to think about that.)

Spoiler alert: The phrase “He’s Just Not That Into You” is not spoken in the movie, so if you were prepared to stand on your seats and cheer upon its utterance you will be disappointed. What does appear is a wretchedly interchangeable group of hip media types (in Baltimore), each of whom is either lusting after someone who isn’t interested or coolly rejecting someone. Everyone talks about nothing but relationships, everyone’s apartment seems to have been decorated by the same exposed-brick urban-chic design fairy, and everyone is as cloth-eared about dating rituals as Martians, or maybe teenagers, though half the cast are old enough to have teenage children themselves. Who doesn’t know that if you have a date with someone who doesn’t maintain contact, you shouldn’t call him or her repeatedly and stalk their favorite lairs?

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