All those A-listers in the ensemble cast (Jennifer Aniston! Scarlett Johansson!) are smiling in the movie's posters, but don't let that fool you. Some heavy stuff falls upon their pretty heads. Though it's admirable that the film from director Ken Kwapis (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ) tries to shake up a typically frivolous formula, too many other elements undermine his intentions.
Based on the best-selling advice book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, the script from Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (Never Been Kissed ) follows nine intertwined characters struggling to make sense of their love lives. The women, especially Ginnifer Goodwin's hopeless romantic Gigi, tend to be needy and demanding; the men, including Bradley Cooper's cheating Ben, are often caddish and evasive.
We begin with Gigi obsessing over the blind date she just had with real estate agent Conor (Kevin Connolly). She's annoyingly desperate, to the point where she drives herself and everyone else mad analyzing every "uh" and "er" she exchanges with a guy.
Thankfully, Conor's restaurant-manager pal Alex (Justin Long) is there to strip her of her girlish illusions. Functioning as the voice of the book, Alex gives her advice that's hilarious in its harshness: "Maybe he just didn't call because he has no interest in seeing you again." Mr. Long brings a charisma to this cruelty, and his scenes with the perky Ms. Goodwin provide the film with refreshing honesty and zest.
Gigi's co-worker, Beth (Ms. Aniston), has been living with boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) for seven years, but he's never asked her to marry him. Their other colleague, Janine (Jennifer Connelly in a meaty performance), is married to her college sweetheart (Mr. Cooper), who's having an affair with yoga instructor Anna (Ms. Johansson).
After more than two hours, what we're left with feels like a Robert Altman movie on Botox. It has some substance and heft, but it also might be a bit too glossy.
'HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU'
THE VERDICT: **
MPAA RATING: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language.