Someone Like You (2001)
Directed by Tony Goldwyn
Cast: Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei, Ellen Barkin.
2001 95 minutes
Rated: (for profanity and sexual situations).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, March 31, 2001.
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 neither respect.
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 stay.
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.
©2001 by Dustin Putman