Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why I was just not into this movie.

A few years ago, I read this book.  Normally, I don't like reading things that come recommended by talk show hosts and are subtitled things like "The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys."  Because honestly, that sounds so pretentious.  But it is not at all.  More so than anything I have ever read, this completely changed the way I viewed relationships.  It should be required reading for every girl.  So when I found out they were making a movie out of it, I was very excited and highly skeptical.  

I know that many of you, particularly those of the male persuasion, will never pick up this book or see the corresponding film, so let me quickly recap some of the points the book makes.  (Like I said, it's been a few years, but this is the general gist of it.)

1. Since the beginning of time, women have been lying to themselves and each other about the way they are being treated by men.  Random example: Jane is upset because a guy is not calling her when he said he would, and complains to her friend about it.  Jane's friend acts shocked and outraged at the mere idea that any guy would not worship at Jane's feet and assures her that either his phone is broken, or he got in a car wreck and is in the hospital unconscious, or he lost her number, etc.  Jane agrees wholeheartedly, becuase she wants this to be true.  

2. 99% of the time, these excuses are not true.  Yes, there are exceptions, and everyone has heard the story of someone whose boyfriend cheated on them but then did a complete 180 turnaround and now they're happily married, blah blah blah.  Do not treat yourself as the exception.  Treat your life as the rule.  

3.  When women believe these excuses, they fool themselves into thinking a guy is interested, when in fact, he's just not that into you.  There are a number of warning signs that show a guy is not that into you: he doesn't call, he doesn't take you on dates, he doesn't want to introduce you to his friends, he's cheating on you, he won't marry you, etc.  A guy will do anything to avoid telling someone he's not interested.

4. If women would pay attention to these signs and tell themselves and each other the truth, they would save a lot of heartbreak.  Because who wants to waste your time on someone who is not interested in seeing you?  You deserve someone who's the real deal, someone who really loves you and someone for whom you don't have to make excuses.

I was really curious how the transition from self-help book into romantic comedy was going to pan out.  The cast of the film is great, and the amount of big-name stars (Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, the list goes on) didn't hurt box office numbers, I'm sure.  It follows several different storylines that all vaguely intersect, and the ideas are clever.  I walked out of the movie with a general happy romantic-comedy feeling, but the more I thought about it, the more disappointed I was with the plot and script choices that were made.  

During the first 3/4 of the movie, they did a really good job of portraying the ideas I talked about above.  And for a romantic comedy, that's really impressive.  The film's major downfall, however, is this: the ending of several of the stories completely negate the points made in the film.  It kind of makes me mad, actually.  Out of the three major storylines, two of them end with the girls discovering in the final moments of the movie that they are, in fact, the exception to the rule.  Turns out he was just that into them in the first place.  What just happened?  It's like in the final 20 minutes of the script, the intelligent and empowered writers got tired and passed it over to the formulaic rom-com writers to finish it off.  

The book He's Just Not That Into You sends a strong and unrelenting message to women of all ages.  Don't lie to yourself, it says; believe the signs you see that HJNTIY and move on to someone better, because you deserve it.  The movie tries to portray the same message, but about 3/4 of the way through, it falls flat on its face and everyone lives happily ever after.  No, thank you.  


Andrew said...

I appreciate this post for 1 very important reason:

1) I'll never read the book, but I've heard a lot about it, and now I know what it's about... and I like what it's about. Interesting. Sounds like the book has it right!

Neal said...

Okay, here's the thing. I like your summary, it's spot on. But I don't think we saw the same ending. Lol. I felt like several relationships imploded/exploded, where all the people involved find that love can truly suck sometimes. It had a few happy endings, but it was a pretty well-balanced, I thought. That's my opinion. Not a great movie, but I liked the second half.

allison said...

It's not that I didn't like the happy endings, because believe me, I am all for happy endings. It's just that it drove me crazy. The whole time I was hearing (at least, I think) that if you see the signs - a guy doesn't return your affections, he doesn't call you, he ignores you at a party, he refuses to marry you, etc. - then he is not worthy of your time. Yet two of the main storylines featured a guy who eventually came around (Ben Affleck and Justin Long), which is awesome and I was happy for the couples involved but I just felt like it made the rest of the movie pointless because now everyone's going to think of the "exception" and not the "rule."

Neal said...

i see what you mean, but i guess i just felt like there were equal parts rule and exception, that's all i was trying to say.

ps- i updated my blog post per your comment. :)

Liz said...

thanks for the insight, its like you are reading my mind... I knew something was wrong with this movie. I wanted some girls rule, boys drool action at the end.