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Ashley’s Just That Into Justin Long’s latest!

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Hi Guys,

My name is Ashley and I’m the latest card-carrying, skirt-wearing member of the Moviehole troupe!

I’m in sunny (well, most of the time – God has taken a leak on the city this past week) California, right in the thick of it, so I’ll be filing all sorts of reviews, interviews (like, for instance, the cast of “Watchmen” in a coupla weeks time – ouch! hooaa!) and reports on anything else I’m invited to/crash. You’ve probably already checked out my reviews of “The Pink Panther 2″ (Looking at its returns for the weekend I think it’s the end of the franchise) and “The Reader” (If Kate Winslet doesn’t win the Oscar, I’ll get a tattoo of Carrot Top on my ankle! – – OK, maybe I won’t, but I’ll be, like, angry), and now you’re about to get close-up with another of my textual verdicts… this one, “He’s Just Not That Into You”.

This is a surprisingly good film. There was anticipation of writing that I just wasn’t into this movie – especially because the cast attached caused a lot of skepticism – but coming from a female not that into rom coms, this is a good one.

Based on the popular book by the same name, written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (writers for “Sex and the City”), “Hw’ follows a group of twenty- and thirty-somethings in Baltimore as they go through different stages of relationships. The skepticism over the cast, including Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston comes from seeing Jennifer Aniston essentially play Rachel, her character in “Friends,” in all of her roles. A fan of the book, I’ll admit it, it would have been tough to see her be that character again in this film. What makes the film work so well is that the stars of the film, who happen to not be overexposed in the media, are Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin (“Big Love”). Both are likeable and believable as their friendship turns into an unlikely relationship.

The film follows Beth (Aniston) and Neil (Affleck) as they approach seven years together with no marriage in sight. Beth becomes frustrated and after hearing her lovelorn co worker Gigi (Goodwin) come to the realization that a man will let you know if he does want to be with you, decides to end things with Neil. Gigi laments to restaurant manager Neil (Long) about her pathetic dating habits and he becomes her dating coach, inadvertently making Gigi think he has feelings for her. Anna (Scarlett Johansson) becomes the other woman in a sour marriage between Gigi and Beth’s coworker Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Ben (Bradley Cooper). When Anna needs a self esteem boost she turns her friend with benefits Conor (Kevin Connolly). They attempt a relationship that fails and Conor ends up with Mary (Drew Barrymore). One of Mary’s friends is played by “My So Called Life” alum Wilson Cruz.

The movie isn’t so unique that it avoids clichés in other films dealing with life and love but it does give clear messages on what to expect from the opposite sex. Long and Goodwin are likeable and relatable characters, so it is easy to identify with their struggles. Connelly does a nice job with her character, playing a meek and stressed out wife, showing her range and that she doesn’t always have to play the dramatic and / or scientist roles in film. Barrymore gives a sweet performance and even Aniston and Affleck keep their performances low key enough so they blend in nicely with the mix of other cast members.

A film like this is long overdue – a story that deals with relationships and friendships in a smart and honest way without hitting the audience in the face with its message or sugar coating the situations. Kudos go to the screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (“Never Been Kissed”) for adapting an essentially self-help book into a possibly classic romantic comedy.

“He’s Just Not That into You” is a film women AND men will enjoy. It’s a great Valentine’s Day (or Single’s Awareness Day – as the case may be) to bring a group of friends or a date to and realize that honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to advice about relationships.

Four Stars!

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