In the wrong hands, "Someone Like You" could have been the next "The Wedding
Planner," the recent Jennifer Lopez romance that was perfectly wretched from
one end to the other. As directed by Tony Goldwyn (1999's "A Walk on the
Moon") and written by Elizabeth Chandler, however, it is an unusually
smart-minded comedy-drama that works well wavering between both genres,
garnering intermittent laughs and honest emotional insights. Whereas "The
Wedding Planner" tried way too hard for guffaws, inspiring over-the-top
performances and a clumsily dopey screenplay, "Someone Like You" is guilty in
Jane Goodale (Ashley Judd) is an assistant producer on "The Diane Roberts
Show," a successful television talk program. While many of the stories deal
with passion, love, and relationships, Jane can't seem to find any of these
things in her own life. This all changes, it seems, when she meets the show's
new producer, Ray (Greg Kinnear), and falls head over heels for him. He says
he loves her, and before she knows it, she has leased out her apartment and
is preparing to move in with him. A stumbling block arises when Ray suddenly
turns cold on her, dumping her abruptly and leaving her without a place to
Enter womanizing co-worker Eddie (Hugh Jackman), a self-confessed ladies' man
who seems to have a different girl in his bed every night, and is looking for
a roommate. Jane takes him up on the offer, as she finds herself sharing
living quarters with a man whom she gets along with alright, but finds rather
slimy in his dating habits. Still not over Ray, and distressed about whether
something is wrong with her or not, she gathers up enough information to form
the Cow Theory, which states that two cows will not mate with each other more
than once, no matter what, and that such a fact might apply to most men.
Egged on by her best friend and editor of a men's magazine, Liz (Marisa
Tomei), Jane pens her thoughts into an editorial in which she creates an
alias author, unprepared for the popularity and success it will achieve.
The generically-titled "Someone Like You," which was originally to be called
"Animal Husbandry," based on the novel of the same name by Laura Zigman, is
thankfully far from generic when it comes to how much it manages to stand out
from the majority of romantic comedies made today. While most romances come
off as if they have been processed by a computer, "Someone Like You" is more
reality-based, as it stands as a delicate, involving character study of a
woman who gradually finds solace in her own skin, and realizes she can be
happy with or without a steady guy.
As Jane Goodale, Ashley Judd has turned in her most accomplished performance
since her career-making debut in 1993's "Ruby in Paradise." Judd strikes all
the right notes, uncovering Jane to be a lovable working woman with a brain
in her head and never with a loss of ideas and thoughts. We happily follow
her through the entirety of the film because we grow to care about her as a
true person, and want to know how everything turns out for her.
Last seen as Wolverine in 2000's "X-Men," Hugh Jackman is a charismatic,
easy-on-the-eyes performer who proves to have what it takes to be a star.
Eddie remains accessible throughout, even when he does things that we
disagree with (such as using most women for one night stands), and it is a
testament to Jackman's talent that he not once comes off as being a pig.
In smaller roles, Greg Kinnear (2000's "The Gift") and Marisa Tomei (2000's
"What Women Want") are fine with what they have to work with, but deserve
better. Kinnear's Ray isn't simply a one-dimensional idiot, thanks to the
relatively fresh character writing, but it is difficult to see why he took
this role. The same goes for Tomei, an often delightful actress who too often
gets throwaway parts that underutilize what she is so clearly capable of.
Ellen Barkin (1999's "Drop Dead Gorgeous") shines in a brief role as talk
show host Diane Roberts, who shares a nice moment with Jane late in the
picture, as she discloses her own insecurities in her life.
"Someone Like You" is an enjoyable dramedy that is fairly obvious in where it
is headed right from the start, but in getting there, it surprises in how
moving and wise it becomes. The tale of a woman who, through the trials and
tribulations of a failed romance and a possibly invigorating new one, finds
her place in the world, it is a worthwhile movie that will likely exceed most
people's wildest expectations on just how good something called "Someone Like
You" could possibly be.
Copyright © 2001 Dustin Putman