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A group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings navigate their various relationships from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life, trying to read the signs of the opposite sex ... and hoping to be the exceptions to the "no-exceptions" rule.

Review by Louise Keller:
It looks harmless enough, this chick flick about attraction, rejection and commitment, but if you look a little closer, you might be irritated to discover that women are portrayed as brainless, man-crazy twits who are unable to think straight or behave with any smarts when it comes to the mating game. Of course you might think this counters the many rom coms that portray men as insensitive, sex-obsessed, beer-swilling louts, but surely there must something in between? Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo's bestselling novel was based on a phrase they wrote for Sex and The City, and incredibly, scriptwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein have stretched out the concept to 129 minutes. It's not all bad, but it's too long, too repetitive and colours women's intelligence in a way that is demeaning.

At the beginning of the film, we are told if a guy acts like a jerk, he likes you. That is the rationale behind any negative male response. From the generic, we are given the specific, as we are introduced to a group of guys and gals from Baltimore and become involved in their complicated love lives. It's about reading signals, understanding excuses and establishing if this is the usual shtick or if you are the exception to the rule.

The key players are Ginnifer Goodwin's optimistic-looking-for-love Gigi and Justin Long's bar-tender Alex, who becomes her Dorothy Dix, when she can't cope with rejection from every Mr Wrong. They are both terrific and it is their relationship that satisfies best. Sparks fly between Bradley Cooper's music executive Ben and yoga instructor babe Anna (Scarlett Johansson) who aspires to being a singer, but Kevin Connolly's real-estate nerd Conor loves Anna, and Ben is married to Jennifer Connelly's renovation-addicted Janine, who is more concerned if Ben has a smoke, than if he has an affair. Drew Barrymore's technology-obsessed Mary is fun: she can't cope with contacting men through mobiles, blackberries, My Space, Facebook and ansaphones in order to be rejected each time. And there's Beth (Jennifer Aniston), who has lived with loyal and committed Neil (Ben Affleck) for seven years, but cannot accept his aversion to marriage ('People who get married are not to be trusted').

Everyone knows everyone - they work together, live together, drink together, so all the complications are compounded. But the film takes itself so seriously and the humorous moments are few and far between. Even the scene involving hot sex on the office desk (between Bradley Cooper and Scarlett Johansson) fails to find the right tone, when their coitus is interruptussed by Jennifer Connelly's dour wife. As for the resolutions, there's little comfort in watching the fiction become even more fictional as all the story strands come to their inevitable conclusions. It feels like an ultra long TV sit-com and I'd be more into it if the film was shorter and the characters were bestowed with a little less illogical stupidity.

DVD special features include deleted scenes with or without commentary by director Ken Kwapis.

Published June 18, 2009

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(US/Germany, 2009)

CAST: Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Kris Kristofferson, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Jennifer ConnellyNatasha Leggero, Angela Shelton, Rod Keller

PRODUCER: Nancy Juvonen

DIRECTOR: Ken Kwapis

SCRIPT: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein (book by Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo)


EDITOR: Cara Silverman

MUSIC: Cliff Eidelman


RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 12, 2009

PRESENTATION: 16: 9 widescreen; Dolby 5.2; Dolby 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes with or without commentary by director Ken Kwapis

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 22, 2009

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