Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Reality: He's Just Not That Into You

Very rarely do I watch a movie before reading the book. To most, that's the criminal, as the movie's usually fall incredibly short of the book's impact,or so far off base it's merely an echo of the novel. Of course, I gotta be different. Personally, I think I'm a bigger fan of Twilight because I read the books first. Otherwise, the movie would have come off as mere teen angst. Instead, it was a shining reflection of something much deeper that lay 'twixt the pages of Stephenie's work of genius. But I digress....

....For the first time in a long time I watched a movie before I read the book. Yes, I know, I am a perfect candidate to read He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Shockingly, no I haven't read it. I will tell you though,
I started the movie with so much head nodding I had to pop some Aleve when it was over. I love fiction as much as the next, but who doesn't love that feeling of attachment you have the the protagonist? That "Everyman" (or woman) vibe...It's you, it's your sister, it's your friend, it's your coworker. Refreshing. And so true. I'm a big fan of realism in my romantic-comedies. I know, that's not what they're made for, but it's unexpected. They should do it more often. I totally felt promise,
We are all programmed to believe that if a guy acts like a total jerk that means he likes you.

This came at the beginning of the movie, with the little girl being told by the boy she likes (circa age 5) that she smells like dog poo. (Who HASN'T been there right? Well, Ok no one ever told me I smelled like dog poo, but I remember in 3rd grade being asked by a boy why I killed my hair. Mom thought it was a good idea to get a perm (it wasn't) and when I went home and cried, my mom's response was the same as Gigi's: he's mean to you...because he likes you. Yes! We are programmed at a very young age to allow this abuse!!! This is followed by a montage of girlfriends rapping over guys, girl A filling the others in with some sad excuse the guy gives her, while girl (s) B-Z come up with ever excuse under the sun for his excuse, insisting to friend A that said guy will call. We globe trot a bit in this scene, from here to Asia to Africa:
I'm sure he just forgot your hut number! Or was eaten by a lion!

From this point on, the grown up girl narrator Gigi (dog poo girl) begins to create a nervous friction in me. Biting my nails and Ramblings in my head: Is she really thinking of showing up there just because he said he hangs out there? Nothing like looking desperate. No, don't call him AGAIN. Oh, oh no, reading waaaay to far into that. Oh, no, he invited you to the party, not to get married! However, it was real. I've seen girls act like that. Reality. Love it. Of course, I've never acted like that or anything. Of course. ahem.

And then, after throwing herself at the guy who'd taught her everything she knew about being "just not that into" her, she says it....
I may dissect each little thing and put myself out there so much but at least that means that I still care. Oh! You've think you won because women are expendable to you. You may not get hurt or make an ass of yourself that way but you don't fall in love that way either. You have not won. You're alone. I may do a lot of stupid shit but I'm still a lot closer to love than you are

And that's when it all came back to that warm fuzzy you-know-this-is turning around. Which, I can't lie, maybe I'm too much LIKE Alex, I hate. I was really hoping for more of a "realistic" ending. Nope. Of course her little "speech" worked, made him realize that he's really THAT into her, and starts to take on her obsessive behavior trying to win her back. And he does. Of course.

Ah, but not to be entirely disappointed (I am such a cynic, I know) Janine and Ben don't have the happy ending. And, Ben doesn't get to have his cake and eat it to, as Anna leaves him. He didn't want to be married, but wasn't man enough to tell her when she gave him the ultimatum (Yeah, who really wants to get married that way anyway??) that he wasn't ready, so enter Anna, the hot chick at the grocery store that has that "this is what I'm missing out on" allure. So the affair begins, and ends after he blurts it out to Janine in the middle of Home Depot that he slept with someone else. Instead of leaving him, she tried to "surprise" him at the office with a little afternoon delight. Little does she know Anna's shoved in the closet and gets to listen to her boyfriend screw his wife. That Jerk! So, she leaves him. For good. Wifey sticks around till she has that "snap" moment finding a pack of cigarettes (She KNEW he was smoking. Because that was the worst thing he was doing...right) And that was the straw that broke the camel(and the mirror's) back. Never missing an OCD beat, she neatly folds every towel, washcloth and sock, matches every shoe with it's mate, and lines it all up for him with a carton of smokes on top with a simple note "I WANT A DIVORCE" Now THAT was reality. The movie was had come full circle and I was in full head-nodding agreement once more as Gigi narrated more truth:

Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. If a guy punches you he likes you. Never try to trim your own bangs and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, Every story we're told implores us to wait for it, the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we're so focused on finding our happy ending we don't learn how to read the signs. How to tell from the ones who want us and the ones who don't, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn't include a guy, maybe... it's you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is... just... moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this, knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope.

Aw. Maybe I hadn't given Gigi enough credit. Maybe I was seeing too much of myself in her, and when she got the happy ending felt cheated, because, thus far that hasn't been my truth. Mine's not quite Janine's either, but it's my own. And I agree with Gigi completely that the happy ending doesn't always include a guy....I was thrilled that a movie could end with a positive spin on that thought for once. Closing in on 30 in a few short years, and turning into Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, it's very refreshing for a character like Janine and even Anna to come out headstrong and on top, while Ben doesn't get either and merely looks like a slimeball in the end. Sorry Ben, they just weren't that into you.

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