Valentine's Day: What He's Just Not That Into You Hath Wrought

Illustration for article titled Valentine's Day: What He's Just Not That Into You Hath Wrought

In February, thanks to a star-studded cast and aggressive marketing, He's Just Not That Into You made $94 million, despite being a gay minstrel show with "desperately needy" heroines and black people punchlines. Guess what?


The executives at New Line Cinema can't wait to take more hard-earned cash from women who don't care about storyline and just want to see something about dating and love — again!

That's why there is a project in the works called Valentine's Day. It will hit theaters right before — wait for it — Valentine's Day, 2010. The plot? The plot is iffy. Something about "would-be romantics working their way through a tangle of circumstances in L.A." But that doesn't matter, because Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Shirley MacLaine will be in it. And Bradley Cooper. New Line will come up with a way to work a story around these people, since all that matters is that there's money to be made. Apparently, He's Just Not That Into You proved that women want to go see "romantic" movies — with other women or a date — right around Valentine's Day.

I have nothing against romance, comedies, or romcoms. I love stuff like When Harry Met Sally, Flirting, and Amelie — thoughtful films with strong writing and characters who are forces of nature. But He's Just Not That Into You — a movie based on a self-help book based on a catchphrase from a TV show — lacked substance and soul; the characters might have well have been cardboard cut-outs with labels like "The Optimist" or "The Seductress" taped to them. And for every bad review, there was a person who said, "I'm gonna see it anyway." Now the studio has 94 million reasons to pull that shit again.

As I wrote earlier this year, when you go see a movie like He's Just Not That Into You, you're casting a vote, telling Hollywood you want more flicks in the same vein. And this is what HJNTIY's box office bonanza hath wrought: Valentine's Day. As a former screenwriting major, it is painful to read that this project is being dictated by a calendar date — along with a cast and director (Garry Marshall) — and not by an actual story someone was inspired to write.

Who knows? Maybe there will be some surprises! Maybe they'll change the title to Single Awareness Day. Maybe some great writer (writers, plural, probably) will be hired by the studio to come up with a perfectly charming Valentine's Day tale. (I can already guess that one woman, who you think will stay single, will suddenly find a date; one woman, who you think will have a date, will suddenly be single; and one couple will remain together despite going through a dilemma that should tear them apart.) But for now, I'm already announcing that I'm just not that into it.


Hollywood Has Feb. 14 Circled in Red [NY Times]

Earlier: Liveblogging He's Just Not That Into You
Cliché-Laden Chick Flick Tries To Convince You It's Not Full Of Clichés
He's Just Not That Into You: Gay Minstrel Show?
More Reasons Not To Get Into He's Just Not That Into You
He's Just Not That Into You - First Review
There's No Way You'll Be Into He's Just Not That Into You




The difference I see, though, is that dumb action movies for men don't become something the entire gender is defined by or belittled by...but chick flick and chick lit and the rest all have a diminutive, negative quality to them. Even if an action movie is dumb, it's still supposedly "fun", and don't try to define life or influence the way people view actual relationships. But romcoms, like it or not, do to some degree. They have greatly influenced our idea of romance and relationships. And women, for that matter.

My issue is not that there's anything wrong with romcoms in the general sense. And we have some examples of ones that are truly funny and clever and well written.

But movies like HJNTIY don't encourage that. They just perpetuate the same tired ideas. And I just can't see that as harmless.