The self-help book of the same title might have been a best seller, but the multiple characters and tangled storylines in the film weigh too heavily and in the end, you really don’t  care about any of them.

Forgive your husband for infidelity, but divorce him for lying about smoking. That’s the kind of twisted logic that’s offered in "He’s Just Not That Into You,'' a predictable and formulaic story that for more than two hours struggles to tell not-so-compelling tales of eight young professionals falling in and out love in Baltimore.

If it the film sounds like a "Sex and the City'' spin-off, that’s because its source material is the now-infamous line spoken by that show’s character, Miranda, which writers Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, then "Sex and the City'' scribes, turned into the relationship bible of the same name. The self-help book might have been a best seller, but the multiple characters and tangled storylines of the film weigh too heavily and you really don’t grow to care about any of them. The women are neurotic and the men despicable. At least director Ken Kwapis ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'') doesn’t discriminate and portrays both genders poorly.

The lovely Ginnifer Goodwin ("Big Love'') is left holding the biggest bag of poo, as her Gigi is a bundle of clichés. She’s the single girl whose friends need to reassure she’s not desperate; she’ll find a guy, she’s a catch, though Gigi can’t get a single dude to call her back.

Reeling from another rejection, this time from real estate wizard Conor (a wooden Kevin Connolly), Gigi falls into friendship with his best friend Alex (Justin Long), the surrogate voice of Behrendt and Tuccillo’s book. Like a love guru, he sagely proffers tidbits of relationship advice, like telling Gigi: "He’s not going to call. ... If a guy likes a woman, he’ll make it happen.''

No, Conor will not call. He’s much too busy with his own relationship problems with buxom singer and yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who has her wandering eye on Ben (Bradley Cooper), the hunk she literally charms the pants off of after a chance meeting at the supermarket checkout. But wouldn’t you know it, Ben’s married to Janine (Connelly), who just happens to work in the same office as Gigi. That’s also where we meet up with Beth (Jennifer Aniston), who is splitting up with Ben’s pal Neil (Ben Affleck), a committed procrastinator on all issues involving marriage.

It IS a small world, after all, much too small for such a large cast. It leaves them no room to expand, to develop or provide a reason to invest in their various romantic travails.

The tone is off, too, putting a strain on actors even as talented as Connelly, who stops the film dead in its track with a scene involving anguish that’s more laugh-inducing than gut-wrenching.

The perceived lightweights, Aniston and Affleck, believe it or not, are the most at ease with each other, while Long and Goodwin are certainly assured, but never get enough alone time to win us over. Like most of his films, Cooper is along for the ride, completely overshadowed by Connelly and Johansson.

Drew Barrymore, who also executive produced, shoehorns her way in with a throwaway part as an advertising executive for an alternative lifestyle magazine, a role that exists only to provide her screen time. Drop her scenes and you’d slice 20 minutes out of what proves to be an excessively long two-hour-plus running time.

 Or even better, spend that 20 minutes working to make the various story strands less predictable and the resolutions less forced. And while they’re at it, how about offering up an answer for the film’s million-dollar question: What guy is really going to be "just not that into'' Aniston, Connelly, Johansson or Goodwin?

Reach Dana Barbuto at dbarbuto@ledger.com.
 
HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language.) Cast includes: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Kris Kristofferson, Justin Long.