He’s Just Not That Into You and Baltimore

Publish Date: January 2011

Criticism of the film includes shallow plot development, and a white washed setting. Being an area highly diverse, the film features as main characters an entirely white cast.

He’s Just Not That Into You is based on the self-help book of the same name. The primary purpose is to help woman identify when men are not as interested in them romantically as they would like, but the movie also examines a man within the same situation. The movie is based on nine individuals searching for love. The events in the movie play out throughout Baltimore, involves a married couple, with the male having an extramarital affair, a couple dating for a years, and four additional single characters.

The story centers on Gigi a single woman that desperate to find love but pursuing the wrong men. In her search, she meets Alex who acts like a mentor in Gigi’s love life. Gigi’s co-worker, Janine is married to Ben, who throughout the movie progressively expresses continues displeasure with marriage. He has an extramarital affair with a yoga instructor, Anna. Anna is close friends with Alex’s friend, Conor. Conor expresses interest in Anna throughout the movie to be more than friends, which is not in the best interest of either of them. Conor works as a real estate agent and contacts Mary to purchase ads for a local gay newspaper. Conor and Mary only correspond over the phone, but when they eventually meet in person, they are immediately attracted to one another and begin dating. Gigi also works with Beth, who lives with her boyfriend, Neil. Neil and Beth have been dating for seven years. They break up because Neil does not believe in marriage while Beth wants to be married. Neil eventually compromises as they reconcile, get back together and eventually marry. Gigi and Alex also eventually end up together at the end, after Alex overcomes his cynicism. Janine and Ben divorce and Anna also chooses to leave Ben, leaving the three of them single at the end of the movie.

Anna’s character serves as the vixen of the film. Ben’s gaze onto the female is that of lust, while the audience views here as a jezebel, set to steal Ben’s character from his wife. The film gives her little depth beyond that. On the other hand, Conor takes on a much less masculine role in comparison to Alex, and is actually dominated throughout most of the movie by Anna. Though this should empower her, it makes her look harder and viewers give even less sympathy (if any at all) to her character. Aside from Anna the female characters exhibit this traditional need to wed and settle down, relying on males to fulfill their desires.

Criticism of the film includes shallow plot development, and a white washed setting. Being an area highly diverse, the film features as main characters an entirely white cast. However, a few supporting characters and unnamed actors ranging from Hispanic to Asian are seen in the film they seem to be placed in the movie as an afterthought or for comic relief, rather than a conscious effort to diversify the movie. While walking in a slightly less beautiful area of Baltimore, Anna glancing around questionably comments, “You’re getting a lot of bids on this place?” Real estate agent Connor replies saying “Yeah. I know it’s crazy, but it’s a neighborhood in transition… Hip gay people, young couples, young families.” This highlights a subtlety in the movie. Many neighborhoods in Baltimore are transitioning and becoming “hip” and “trendy” such as Station North.

Obviously, the counter argument for the white washed He’s Just Not That Into You is the constant barrage of Baltimore footage highlighting crime and poverty in The Wire or even the kitschy and quirky Waters’ films like Crybaby and Hairspray. He’s Just Not That Into You is a normal romantic comedy in a city that is not used often for these films and is meant to be any urban setting. The ensemble cast of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings are all living a very privileged lifestyle. Relating to Kawin’s theory that framing makes a difference, each character lives in lavish loft or row home in the what seems to be the nicest parts of Baltimore and somewhat defines them and the tone of their plotline. Conor lives in Brewer’s Hill, with a Natty Boh seen only five minutes into the film. Like many of the homes featured, there is exposed brick, an open floor plan and a very modern feel. The leather couches and the frosted windows may show Conor’s attempt to be more of an adult, while not completely there, quite yet. Beth and Neil live in a loft in Federal Hill with the Domino’s Sugar neon sign visible through their window. Their apartment has cool tones and they are in the process of adding a few decorative touches. Similar to their relationship, they have established themselves (a Federal Hill loft is not cheap), but there is still room for a little work. Janine and Ben’s row home, on the other hand, is being renovated throughout the movie, also aligning with their relationship, a work in progress but currently in disarray. The row home renovations are not finished until the end of the film when the couple divorce. The row home, with its dark tones, is least friendly of all the homes. While most of the characters at least have office jobs, Alex, as the bar owner also seems to be well off in yet another brick exposed apartment, a bike can be seen in his doorway—Baltimore is a very bike friendly city. Alex’s apartment featured more steel than any other, mimicking his icier demeanor. Gigi’s apartment has no exposed brick, more crown molding and has a very feminine feel, similar to her. Her small dining table where she is seen often speaks to her single lifestyle.

Throughout the movie, there are references to “The State of Maryland” when discussing getting married within the state as well as when during Beth’s sister’s wedding, when she mentions she does not want to be married during a “gross Baltimore winter.” The husbands are seen watching the Terps on television and a Baltimore water taxi can be seen in the background of one scene. Neil has a boat docked at the harbor near his Federal Hill loft, highlighting the Baltimore piers. When a less than reputable man Gigi is seeing says he is going to be out of town to Pittsburgh, Alex tells Gigi to run—an obvious shot at The Baltimore Raven’s rivals The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mary’s character writes for a fictional gay publication called, “The Baltimore Blade” serves for a variety of opportunities to highlight Baltimore, and provides comic relief from the gay characters. During a deleted scene, there is a gay pride parade through Mount Vernon. The parade features vintage cars, huns, and a lot of the kitschiness Baltimore has grown to be known for. An additional deleted scene shows Gigi on a date with a sensible safe guy that “calls when he’s supposed to,” named Bill. While not a bad guy, he does not have the charm of Alex. The Baltimore Inner harbor is used as the date’s backdrop, while nice and inviting, it is also safe, cliché, and unimaginative, similar to the date.

The images of Baltimore are overwhelmingly positive, which is why I choose this film. There is not a leaf out of place, a strong contrast to some of the grittier images of Baltimore. Baltimore definitely needed a clean cut modern motion picture, but He’s Just Not That Into You looks unrealistic. Baltimore has some slightly less charming neighborhoods that do not consist of lavish lofts, and large row homes. Baltimore has minorities, dive bars, and crime as well as large boats and high priced bars. Baltimore is neither one extreme nor the other, which is something John Waters and Barry Levinson capture wonderfully. However, It is nice to see Baltimore as a place for yuppies on the East Coast that is bright, charming and inviting unlike New York City, and one must admit that it is far easier for a late twenty-something to have a nice apartment in Baltimore than in its northern counterparts.