Thursday, February 5, 2009

A trendy guide to relationships

Here's what you need to know about "He's Just Not That Into You," provided that the word "trendy" makes you run for cover.

-- The movie is a big-screen adaptation of a bestselling 2004 relationship guide by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book's subtitle: "The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys." The whole thing reportedly was inspired by a line from a "Sex and the City" episode. Need I say more? Need you hear more?

-- "He's Just Not That Into You" has been filled with a variety of pretty faces, actresses with a definite appeal for a female audience in which ages top out at about 40 -- and probably skew a little younger.

-- The key players in this ensemble are Jennifer Aniston (as a woman who's been living with a guy for seven years and wants to get married); Jennifer Connelly (as a wife who's renovating a house with her less-than-committed husband); Ginnifer Goodwin (as a young woman who wants a relationship but tries too hard); and Scarlett Johansson (as a singer who's not sure what she wants, maybe another movie with Woody Allen.)

--Goodwin currently can be seen as the impetuous Margene in "Big Love." In that popular HBO series, she plays one of three wives in a Utah family that believes in "the principle;" i.e., multiple wives. Here, she can't even get a date.

-- The movie was directed by Ken Kwapis, who directed "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and who has a lot of experience in television. It shows.

-- An episodic "story" is interrupted by self-conscious monologues that enumerate the ways in which men are dogs.

-- There are some amusing moments, and everyone is attractive, but the movie tries too hard to reflect the contemporary social scene, at least as its experienced by a variety of young, reasonably affluent residents of Baltimore.

-- Many guys are going to be dragged by their dates to see this movie.

-- Kris Kristofferson has a blinkingly tiny role as Aniston's father. Ben Affleck plays one of the nicest guys in the movie, prompting what might be its only lingering questions: "What's the world coming to?"


I decided to attend a preview of "Push," the new sci-fi action movie, because the movie was filmed in Hong Kong. I've never been. I want to go. Movies may be the closest I'll ever get. "Push" offers some great shots of teeming city streets, sleek glass skyscrapers, a harbor dotted with small boats and a variety of bustling markets. Too bad, the actors sometimes block the view.

Watching "Push," all I could think about was the meeting that might have taken place when this misshapen mess was hatched. What if we took a really confusing story, created a bunch of characters with paranormal powers, wrote some bad dialogue, incorporated a variety of special effects that evoked memories of movies such as "The Matrix," and hired actors who seem committed to showing only one facial expression? Sounds like a winner to me.

"Push," which features characters who are pushers, movers and watchers, tells the story of Nick Gant (Chris Evans), a guy who's trying to hide from The Division, a force dedicated to capturing people with paranormal powers and using them as weapons. He's joined by Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), a teen-ager who can see into the future. That's what watchers do. Nick is a mover, he makes objects float through the air. Pushers, by the way, don't sell drugs; they penetrate people's minds and overwhelm them with the power of suggestion. Everyone runs around madly with director Paul McGuigan setting a frantic, panicky pace. Talk about ruining a trip to Hong Kong.

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