Someone Like You

on March 30, 2001 by Jon Alon Walz
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   "Someone Like You" is the latest in a rash of mediocre modern romantic comedies purposefully named after a generically-titled, sentimental hit single in a desperate, transparent attempt by the filmmakers and studios to somehow conjure the romantic feeling they were unable to capture on the set by connecting their movie with a song people already associate with love and romance.

   Based on the more provocatively titled novel "Animal Husbandry" by Laura Zigman, "Someone Like You" stars the perky and charming Ashley Judd as Jane Goodale, a disillusioned romantic theorist-slash-talk show producer who has come to believe that the behavior of her past boyfriends, and therefore men in general, can be best understood by analyzing the mating habits of livestock. Like most men, she explains, the male cow will mate with a female cow once and only once before moving on.

   Jane and her new boss Ray (Greg Kinnear) begin having a clandestine affair that, in minutes (literally and figuratively), becomes so sincere and serious that Jane gives up her apartment to move in with Ray. But soon, of course, Ray gets cold feet and gives poor Jane the cold shoulder.

   Although Jane is homeless and boyfriendless again, the bad screwball-comedy plotting conveniently reveals that her co-worker, production coordinator-slash-insufferable playboy Eddie (Hugh Jackman), just happens to have a room for rent in his sports arena-sized SoHo loft. In she moves and soon finds what every expensively costumed girl in a New York romantic comedy is looking for: someone like Hugh!

   It wouldn't have killed director Tony Goldwyn to take a fresh look a few of his grandfather Samuel Goldwyn's great romantic classics like "Ball of Fire" or "Dodsworth" to get a feel for the chemistry needed to make a romantic comedy really fly. As delightful and attractive as the cast may be in "Someone Like You," the film's writing separates and identifies characters not on the basis of their reality and frailty as human beings but as the total of their longwinded whining about their love lives. There is not a single conversation between characters that is elevated above a he- or she-done-me-wrong woe. Even the big, final smooching scene between the photogenic Jane and her hunky new paramour over Van Morrison's namesake song is not even a kiss at all, but rather a long, pathetic and awkward lip-press that in its own odd way perfectly captures the bland essence of the film. Starring Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman and Greg Kinnear. Directed by Tony Goldwyn. Written by Elizabeth Chandler. Produced by Lynda Obst. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, and for some language. Running time: 100 min

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