A couple of weeks ago a friend lent me the book, and I read it in a single evening. The book is like a diet–there are some excellent guidelines to be followed, but a strict regimen according to the gospel of authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo will do nothing but make you crazy.

The underlying message of the book and the movie is a good one: if a guy is into you he will show it, usually by calling. If a guy never calls you, he’s just not that into you, regardless of how much fun you have together or how great the emails are. Even if he’s not a phone person, he will call. There’s good advice in them thar hills.

The movie starts out with a young girl on the playground wanting to know why a boy is mistreating her. A young mother assures her daughter: “It’s because he likes you.” And that my friends, is where the confusion originates: we are conditioned, as women, to view mistreatment at a very young age as a sign of interest. This premise works for anyone under twelve but does anyone really believe such behavior spills over into adulthood?

Then the movie scans the world, showing that women in all cultures, of all ages, are busy making excuses for why their men aren’t showing them more affection: he’s busy, he forgot what hut I live in, yada yada yada. Any female who has been on the dating scene more than a minute has done this because the truth–that he may just not like you–hurts.

The movie, for the most part, follows the travails of a cute but somewhat pathetic Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays a convincing phone watcher and stalker. After a so-so date, Goodwin obsesses about the guy who doesn’t call her for a second date. She tells herself all kinds of lies to convince herself that he is going to call. When he doesn’t, she shows up at his favorite watering hole.

I have done this, although not recently. I have obsessed over a guy, checked my non-existent phone messages, analyzed the situation to death with my girlfriends, and done the ever-popular drive-by just to see if, ya know, he’s like, there. Goodwin does a great job demonstrating that erratic, insane behavior can emanate from a perfectly sane person. In fact, she sure makes the rest of us feel good.

The movie gets hilarious as Goodwin overassumes the interest level of different guys. The movie also, at times, feels like a horror flick: I found myself putting my hands over my face and shaking my head at Goodwin’s pathetic fumblings around the dating world.

Justin Long plays the mouthpiece of author Greg Behrendt. He befriends Goodwin early on in the movie and dispenses the cold hard truth about whether or not the guys she meets are into her. Best part of the movie.

The problem is that Long is a player, and gives us a bird’s eye view of how players think and act. The movie (more than the book) assumes that all guys are self-assured go-getters who know exactly what they want and will act accordingly. Rubbish. Men can be just as insecure as women.

And alas, Hollywood just couldn’t stop the cliche train. Long the player falls for Goodwin the good girl; the guy who said he never wanted to get married proposes; and the single girl goes off to India to find herself.

The last ten minutes of the movie nullify the first two hours. Tis a shame.

My number one problem with an otherwise good, thought-provoking movie, is that there are no happy single people in it. Everyone who is single is out looking for love in all the wrong places. No one is content, just living his or her life. Sex and the City suffered from this same character flaw.

Maybe content single people don’t make for good stories. I’d like to think otherwise.