He's Just Not That Into You ** (2 stars)
Watching a bunch of self-pitying beautiful people is never as much fun as Hollywood makes it out to be. But at least the writers of She's Just Not That Into You manage to work in a few good lines for its photogenic cast. That, and it makes Baltimore look not only good, but hip.
Essentially, HJNTIY follows nine eligible Baltimoreans as they struggle to connect, generally without much luck. The movie's main concern is cute, vulnerable Gigi (Ginnifer Godwin), whose desperation drives away every guy she encounters. She's trying to figure out the signs - you know, those undetectable signals guys send out that should instantly tell a gal her chances. (I always thought it was gals who sent out the undetectable signals, but what do I know?).
Then there are her two office mates at the New Colony Spice company, who offer support when not distraught over their own situations. Janine (Jennifer Connelly) is stuck in a loveless marriage and a house undergoing major renovations, while Beth (Jennifer Aniston) lives with a guy who loves her, but won't marry her.
And, finally, there are two more women to track: sexy Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who only loves what she can't have, and confounded magazine sales rep Mary (Drew Barrymore), who curses the day the words "Internet" and "dating" ever found one another.
As for the men, Ben (Bradley Cooper) is married to Janine but having an affair with Anna; Conor (Kevin Connolly) is stuck in a platonic relationship with Anna and working with Mary to come up with the perfect ad to appeal to a gay clientele; Conor's bud, bartender Alex (Justin Long), is advising Gigi on how to understand guys; and Ben's bud, Neil (Ben Affleck), is the cad who won't commit to Beth.
The desperation level among the inhabitants of HJNTIY is constantly being pumped up, usually to exhausting (and, too often, irritating) levels. Goodwin and Aniston come off best, mainly because their characters are allowed to have more than one dimension, but the problems here are not with anything the cast does. The problem is that, even with a few comic twists, there's nothing in this movie that hasn't been in dozens of similar romantic comedies. And even for proud Baltimoreans who can't see enough of Mr. Boh on the big screen (the one-eyed guy pops up a couple times, so watch carefully), two hours of such a well-worn formula proves more wearying than amusing.
* At 5:45, some guys are watching a Terps ice hockey game on TV. True, there is a Terps ice-hockey club (home games are played at an ice rink in Laurel), but their matches don't generally show up on TV. "Our games are NEVER televised," says Ken Rubin, the team's general manager and faculty adviser. "Oh, that this was not the case!"
* Baltimore's gay newspaper is Baltimore Gay Life, not HJNTIY's Baltimore Blade. Snappy name, though.
* About that rehearsal dinner... steamed crabs? Served to a bunch of men in suits and women in dresses? Not the best idea.
* At 9:24, Mr. Boh makes his first appearance, on the face of a Brewer's Hill clock, with the old Atlantic-Southwestern Broom Co. building serving as backdrop. Proving that Baltimore is no one-beer town, the logo for Clipper City beer shows up at the 57:46 mark.
* There are lots of nice establishing shots of Baltimore rowhouses (in an interview, director Ken Kwapis admitted a love for Baltimore's brick facades). One of the best comes at 41:38, along Exeter Street, before the camera moves inside Janine and Ben's reconstruction project.
* Occasionally, pieces of dating advice show up as one- or two-minute segments, all of them filmed in Baltimore. Locations include the Inner Harbor (in front of a water taxi) and the Belvedere, on Chase Street.