Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck
Director: Ken Kwapis
…Because You’re A Hideous Human Being.
Sometimes while watching a film, I find myself thinking “who on earth is the target audience for this?” Usually this happens with a chick-flick that shows women in a particularly unflattering light – which is the case depressingly often. This film doesn’t just do that, but goes one step further: it appears to have complete contempt for the whole of humanity. And to be honest, after about 25 minutes in the company of these characters, so did I.
While fancying itself as some kind of oracle determining the differences in the way men and women approach the process of dating, this film in fact populates itself with either shrill ninnies obsessed with commitment/marriage/babies (the women) or obnoxious douchebags with barely any personality to speak of (the men). It’s hard to pick any one example out as the actual worst, but Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Gigi is definitely a frontrunner: despite ostensibly being an adult, she apparently needs someone to talk her through even the most basic of human interactions, and a telephone becomes a deadly weapon in her hands. She spends so much of the film wondering why men aren’t interested in her, but whenever any man does display an attraction to her, she turns into an actual crazy person. Now, we’ve all done fairly stupid things when we were dating and desperate (I certainly did), but Gigi does all those things and more. She runs after men who give her their number in bars to establish who’s supposed to call who first. She announces to random gays at parties that she’s totally got something special happening with the host, despite not having actually confirmed this with the host beforehand. The 5 Gs, as laid down by RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s Latrice Royale (“Good God, get a grip, girl”), have never been more appropriate.
While the women in this film are all dreadful stereotypes without exception, the men are equally horrific: Justin Long’s Alex spends all of his time in this film explaining why they are assholes, in an apparent effort to be a more sensitive, relatable version of modern man – but in some fault of writing/acting/direction, comes off as every bit as much of an ass himself. Having spent the film, for reasons best known to himself, counselling Gigi every time she so much as sneezes in a man’s general direction, his about-face at the end where he realises He Was Just That Into Her All Along, is a particular low-point of credibility in a film already inhabited by aliens from the planet of Rich Middle-Class White People problems. It’s disappointing that a film can have such a large, unwieldy ensemble cast, and yet not have one single rounded character amongst them. As my boyfriend remarked at one point, “normally when I’m watching such a one-dimensional character in a film, I expect someone to be chasing them with a knife.”
I think where this film ultimately goes wrong is taking a self-help book about learning to understand when a relationship is not going anywhere, and attempting to turn it into a romcom, where the genre demands a happy ending of some sort. The conclusion seemed completely at odds with the title of the film, where (almost) everybody overcame their romantic obstacles and discovered their other half Was Indeed That Into Them. The only people whose characters didn’t get a happy romantic ending were Connolly, Cooper and Johansson, presumably in a vain attempt at capitulating to reality – but considering the utter fantasy world that the rest of the film took place in, this felt like rather a hollow gesture.
Watching this film on a rental DVD, it got stuck on two separate occasions and required me to skip to the next chapter in order to continue watching, thereby saving me around 12 minutes of the 129 minutes total running time. I’ve rarely been more grateful for malfunctioning equipment in all my life.