Review in a Hurry: Another vapid rom-com for Valentine's Day? Not exactly. This star-studded adaptation of the best-seller attempts to be a dating/relationship guide of sorts—in movie form! Sometimes shooting from the hip, sometimes aiming for the heart, HJNTIY—like a nearsighted Cupid—hits and misses.
The Bigger Picture: Inspired by the nonfiction self-help book (by Sex and the City scribes Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo), the film spins several interconnecting stories about love-challenged twenty- and thirtysomethings in Baltimore. An amiable cast and several charming moments make for a pleasant diversion, but the whole isn't greater than the sum of these parts, due to a loose, episodic structure and uneven plotlines.
Ginnifer Goodwin stars as overeager Gigi, who solicits bar manager Alex (Justin Long) for tips about men after a failed date with realtor Conor (Kevin Connolly), among others. Conor tries to romance yoga instructor Anna (Scarlett Johansson), but she's smitten with Ben (Bradley Cooper), who's married to college sweetheart Janine (Jennifer Connelly). Meanwhile, Beth (Jennifer Aniston) considers leaving live-in boyfriend Neil (Ben Affleck) because he's opposed to getting married. Oh, what a tangled web...
The guys might not be that into them, but the ladies exact their revenge by giving the stronger performances. Aniston and Connelly display more depth here in briefer roles than in all of Marley & Me and The Day the Earth Stood Still, respectively. And Drew Barrymore delights in an amusing, heartfelt cameo.
Charismatic Cooper shows leading-man potential, but Long and Connolly have trouble transferring their small-screen appeal to big-screen roles. Long especially looks uncomfortable, failing to establish any chemistry with Goodwin, and their budding relationship is both unbelievable and predictable.
Other story lines fare better—namely the two involving marriage, although one (I won't reveal which!) tacks on an unnecessary, fairy-tale ending. It's disappointing, since parts of HJNTIY prove that romance movies—and chocolates, for that matter—are better when bittersweet.
The 180—a Second Opinion: For stories about beautiful, privileged, self-absorbed, ethnically homogenous young people, you'd be better off watching Friends.