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Film / He's Just Not That into You

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He's Just Not That Into You is a 2009 Romantic Comedy/Dramedy film directed by Ken Kwapis and Based on an Advice Book. The Ensemble Cast includes Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore (who was also one of the producers), Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, and Justin Long (among others).

The movie is different from your typical romantic comedy in that it features not one, but four storylines going on at the same time, with snippets of people on the streets giving relationship advice on various topics.

The film is set in Baltimore and consists of these four story-lines:

  1. Gigi (Goodwin) is a hyperactive girl who's desperately seeking a boyfriend to the point of stalking anyone who seems interested in her. After trying and failing with numerous guys, she meets bartender Alex (Long), who knows the ins and outs of relationships and helps Gigi see through the charades of the various men she meets. Little does he realize that he's falling for her in the process.
  2. Janine (Connelly) and Ben (Cooper) were married after a rather long relationship and are remodeling their home. Janine is happy and looking forward to having kids, but Ben feels that he is trapped and longs for the freedom he felt before marriage. One night he meets Anna (Johansson) at a grocery store, and what he initially tries to justify as a work relationship or a friendship ends up becoming an affair.
  3. Conor (Connolly) is a real estate agent with a crush on Anna. They had a 'Friends with Benefits' relationship in the past, but Anna is more attracted to Ben. Meanwhile, Anna's friend Mary (Barrymore) works in ad sales for a newspaper and helps Conor get advertisements for his company put into the paper. Mary is also seeking a boyfriend through several online dating misadventures.
  4. Ben's best friend Neil (Affleck) has been living with his girlfriend Beth (Aniston) for seven years, and she wants him to pop the question. The problem is that Neil is afraid of marriage, and he feels that he's loyal enough and their relationship is serious enough that they don't need to be married. In frustration, Beth leaves him, but she soon sees her sisters' and friends' marriages are not as good as what she had with Neil.

This film contains examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder:
    • Inverted as Neil didn't want to marry Beth, but after she leaves him, he shows up at her recovering dad's house to help her take care of him.
    • Also inverted with Alex, who wasn't himself after his falling out with Gigi.
  • All Gays are Promiscuous: Two gay men explain the art of hooking up in the homosexual world. If you can hold their stare for 3 seconds, it's on.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: "Girlfriend" by Crystal Kay, featuring Boa, is the theme song for the Japanese dub.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: After being on the receiving end of a "reason you suck" speech, Alex realizes he has fallen for her after all, and he declares his love to Gigi.
  • Based on an Advice Book: Most of the characters act out dating and marriage scenarios described in the book.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Smoking is this for Janine because she lost her dad to lung cancer. Ben assures her he doesn't smoke, but when she finds a pack of what Harlan Ellison called "cancersticks" in his jacket...
    • To make matters worse, she finds them after she's learned of his infidelity and in the midst of them trying to work things out. They become symbolic of how much he's been lying to her about everything.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Ben (Archie), Anna (Veronica), and Janine (Betty). Though Anna is the blonde and Janine the brunette.
    • Connor (Archie), Mary (Betty), and Anna (Veronica).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gigi and Alex start dating. Mary and Connor meet and instantly hit off. Neil finally proposes to Beth and they get married. But Janine divorces Ben and they move on in their lives. Anna also dumps Ben and ends things with Connor, but she too, moves on with her life.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Beth, Janine and Gigi.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Beth wants Neil to marry her, but he doesn't believe in marriage, and she breaks up with him as a result. Beth soon realizes what she's lost and asks Neil to take her back. It appears the Aesop is that that marriage doesn't automatically make you happy or more committed than a devoted couple. And in the end, a woman can find happiness without it. However, Neil then asks Beth to marry him anyways. Apparently, a woman can't be complete without marriage after all and men will always marry a woman if they love her.
      • Or that the guy has to bend over backwards to keep a girl who doesn't share the same aspirations as him. Very rarely does this actually work. As we see with Ben and Janine.
      • Or the general idea they both sacrifice their dreams for their significant other. For better or worse. Though some would find that romantic.
    • Alex and Gigi. Alex spends most of the film drilling into Gigi (and the audience) that if a guy wants to be with you, he'll make it happen. If you're not sure whether or not he likes you, or have to do all the work to be together, then he's just not that into you and you should move on. No exceptions, not even you. Toward the end of act two, Gigi then dissects every interaction she ever had with Alex, and convinces herself there were "signs" he was secretly into her, which he calls her out on before he sends her away. And then it all flies out the window when it turns out Gigi was right. Alex did secretly like her, and she is his exception, completely breaking the film's entire premise.
  • Central Theme: Honesty now, especially with yourself, will save you pain later. If you're not that into someone, telling them so up front (politely, if possible) is best.
    • Ben is the prime example of this. If he had been honest with Janine he would not have married her in the first place. Or he would have divorced her before pursuing Anna. Then he lies to her again by performing a Closet Shuffle which is also what causes Anna, the shufflee, to dump him. Finally, he lies to Janine about quitting smoking. The discovery of a pack of cigarettes in his pants after he told her to her face that he wasn't smoking is the final straw for Janine and causes her to divorce Ben.
    • Gigi keeps lying to herself through her fantasies about how into her the men she meets are. Alex is honest with her to the point of being insensitive, and it helps Gigi become more realistic about her relationships. Alex finally gets honest with himself that he is falling for Gigi and they get together.
    • On the rebound from pursuing Ben, Anna saves herself from a loveless relationship and Connor from a great deal of heartbreak by telling him that she can't move into a new house with him before he buys the house.
    • Beth tells Neil that she can't be in a long-term relationship without marriage anymore, and although it causes a temporary break between them it gives Neil the motivation to finally overcome his fear of marriage.
    • Mary has been insulating herself from heartbreak by hiding behind online dating services, voicemail, and texting. When she finally decides that she needs to go connect to someone face-to-face, it works for her.
  • Closet Shuffle: Ben takes Anna to his office to celebrate her having got a singing gig. Then Janine knocks on the door after deciding she needs to be "fun" to save their marriage. Cue Ben shoving Anna into the closet.
  • Creator Cameo: Greg Behrendt, the co-author of the book, plays the wedding minister.
  • Cringe Comedy: Veers into this occasionally, especially with Gigi.
  • Deconstructed Trope:
    • Janine goes into a fit of rage over Ben's infidelity, flinging his clothes around and smashing a mirror. At this, her fit abruptly halts as she realizes that now she needs to clean up the mess she's made.
    • Also, Janine's entire relationship with Ben. She tells Gigi at one point that he didn't call her for eleven days after their first date, the only reason they started dating was that she called him, and we learn the only reason they're married is that she gave him an ultimatum. (And they're in a Sexless Marriage.) To the viewer, it's clear he was never that into her, and in the long run, he resents her for pressuring him into something he wasn't ready for. Unsurprisingly, their marriage doesn't work out.
    • Anna doesn't end up with Dogged Nice Guy Connor after realizing that Ben is a jerk because she doesn't love him either.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Ben leaving cigarettes not only in his pants pocket but in the pocket of the sole pair of pants left out basically assuring that Janine will find it.
  • Embarrassing Voicemail: Gigi leaves a particularly embarrassing one for Conor despite his disinterest, and Mary receives two; one refers to her, the other to a different woman.
  • Foil: Ben and Neil are two men who're pressured by their girlfriends into getting married, but while Ben gave into the pressure some time ago and resents being married to Janine because he feels he's missing out on other women, Neil resists the pressure to marry Beth but still loves and is committed to her, and doesn't want anyone else. Neil ends up marrying Beth because he only wants her, while Janine divorces Ben because of his cheating.
  • Gay Best Friend: Mary has a whole posse of them at work.
  • Gender Flip: Anna and Connor play out a version of "she's just not that into you"—they're very good friends, but despite genuinely liking him, she simply does not reciprocate his romantic/sexual feelings for her.
  • Hyperlink Story: Four different storylines in the same movie, somewhat interconnected through the characters involved.
  • Informed Attribute: Anna wants to become a singer, and we see her singing at the end of the movie, but we never actually hear her sing.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: It never is, according to this movie. If you ever hear this line, go buy yourself some ice cream and booze because you just got dumped.
  • Internal Reveal: Ben to Janine (since the audience knows already).
    Ben: "I slept with someone."
  • Ironic Echo: Resolution of both Ben/Janine and Neil/Beth storylines happens through the woman finding something in the man's pants' pockets. The results can't be more different however...
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: A mutual case between Beth and Neil. Beth eventually decides that she can accept Neil back without marriage, and he moves in with her again. But Neil decides that if she truly needs marriage to make her happy then he will overcome his fear, and he proposes to her.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Alex has lots of attractive women pursuing him, including Gigi, but he doesn't get serious with any of them until Gigi points this out and he realizes he loves her after all.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ben gets dumped by both of the women in his life, Janine for his cheating, Anna for the above mentioned Closet Shuffle, during which she's forced to listen while he and Janine have sex.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: The final hookup of the film is Mary and Connor.
  • Let's Just Be Friends: Ben tries to rationalize his relationship with Anna by telling her that being married doesn't mean he is restricted from having friends who are also attractive women. Anna agrees, shakes his hand, and then strips down to nothing in front of him to go Skinny Dipping, inviting him to come join her. I don't think she was fooled.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: We're talking to you, Gigi. And let's not forget Anna... hooking up with a married man. Then there's Mary, for trying to find love through digital devices (phone, text, social media, Skype dates, etc.) instead of meeting men in person, even though it never works out for her.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Janine, Ben, Anna, Connor, and Mary are all connected romantically.
  • Loving a Shadow: Alex helps Gigi realize that she obsesses about guys she barely knows (like Connor) or don't want to see her because she's subconsciously addicted to the thrill and drama of chasing them. With effort, Gigi stops doing this and focuses on finding guys she actually likes and that, more importantly, like her back.
  • Match Maker Crush: Sort of. Alex doesn't realize he is in love with Gigi until after he teaches her how to be more realistic in her relationships.
  • Married at Sea: At the end of the film, Beth and Neil.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: All over the place. Gigi begins calling Alex for advice because she can't understand the men in her life without inside information. Alex can provide helpful advice because he does understand men, but he doesn't really understand women.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: In the opening scene, the child version of Gigi is abruptly pushed off a jungle gym by a boy. When she tearfully asks why he did that, he yells, "Because you smell like dog poo!" In trying to comfort her, her mother claims, "Do you know why he did that? Because he likes you!" As an adult, Gigi angrily points out that telling girls this sets them up for years of ill-treatment at the hands of men because of being conditioned to believe that it's actually a sign of affection.
  • Monochrome Casting: The movie is set in Baltimore, and although there are POC as secondary characters the main cast is all white actors.
  • Morton's Fork: How Ben sees his marriage to Janine. He confides to Neil that he feels men like them can never win. He's a jerk if he dates a woman for a long time but doesn't marry her (Neil), but then he's an asshole if he gets married before he's ready (Ben).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Scarlett Johansson as Anna. Can you say "throwing a bone to guys taken to this by their girlfriends"?
  • Not a Date: Gigi fully ignored the signs that Alex is not into her, and acts as a co-host at his party. But it does work out in the end for her, considering that she was supposed to be "The Rule".
  • Old Maid: How Beth is seen at her sister's wedding, since she's the eldest of four sisters, the only one now not married, and recently broken up from a seven-year-relationship.
  • Parental Favoritism: Beth's dad cheers her up about feeling like an Old Maid at her sister's wedding by proudly assuring her she's his favorite. She tells him he's not supposed to say that, but she's clearly touched by it.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Alex provides dating tips to Gigi throughout the film and in the end they get together.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Beth's awesome dad. When she tells him he's not supposed to say she's his favorite:
    "Hell, I'm retired. I can say whatever I want! I can tell it to the whole room if you want."
  • Sexless Marriage: Janine tearfully reveals this to Gigi about herself and Ben.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss:
    • Alex does this to Gigi.
    • Anna also does this to Connor when she's on the rebound from dumping Ben.
  • Skewed Priorities: Subverted. On the surface, Janine forgiving Ben for cheating but being prepared to divorce him for smoking seems like this. As the film goes on, however, it becomes clear that she focuses on the smoking because it's easier to deal with than the hurt and betrayal over their failing marriage and his infidelity. Janine also makes it clear that she values honesty. She can forgive his infidelity because he came out and admitted it, but can't forgive the smoking because he lied and tried to hide it from her.
  • Stalking Is Love: Gigi thinks so before Alex sets her straight.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Of the "Pay Cheating Unto Normal/Boring" variety. Considerable time is spent developing Ben and Anna's relationship and showing that he's genuinely attracted to her and falling in love with her, despite the fact that he's married to a perfectly decent and beautiful woman.
    • Major case of YMMV, considering how callously he hurts his heartbroken wife. Even Anna eventually grows disgusted with him in-universe.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Janine, having at this point found out about her husband's infidelity, finds a pack of cigarettes in a pair of his pants. She realizes just how dishonest he's been and loses it, engaging in a bout of Tantrum Throwing his clothes out until smashing the mirror snaps her out of it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gigi gives a pretty powerful one to Alex at the end of the second act, calling him out on treating women like they're expendable to him, then acting superior for never putting himself out there or getting hurt, when in reality he's alone, doesn't have any meaningful friendships or relationships, and the women he scorns are a lot closer to finding meaningful connections than he'll ever have since they're at least trying.
    Gigi: I would rather be like that than be like you.
    Alex: Excuse me? What's that supposed to mean?
    Gigi (on the verge of tears): I may dissect each little thing and put myself out there so much, but at least that means that I still care! Oh! You think you've won! Because women are expendable to you? You may not get hurt or make an ass of yourself that way, but you don't fall in love that way either! You have not won! You're alone, Alex! I may do a lot of stupid shit, but I'm still a lot closer to finding someone than you are!
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel:
    • Anna, who believes Ben may be her soulmate and uses this to justify her taking up with a married man. This doesn't pan out.
    • Gigi seems to have wild fantasies about every man she meets.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Gigi moves on from Alex just as he realizes that he truly has fallen in love with her. They end up together in the end.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: When Gigi tells Beth and Janine at work about all the signs a man is "just not that into" a woman that Alex told her about, Beth internalizes that if a woman has been with a man for seven years and he hasn't married her yet, then he's never going to marry her. Gigi is clearly horrified and tries to backpedal, but it still prompts Beth to dump Neil. They get back together in the end.
  • Voicemail Confusion:
    • Gigi runs into this when she tries to call Connor.
    • Mary gets a sweet singing voice mail from a date. And then a second voice mail from the same guy that he meant to send to another woman, using the same song. The guy realizes he dialed Mary again halfway through his routine and hangs up abruptly.
  • Wham Shot: The cigarettes falling out of Ben's pockets, which Janine finds later.