Yes, it’s another movie about a beautiful woman who can’t get a date.
If Hollywood wants to make a film about a sad and lonely woman, why doesn’t it use a woman who looks as though she could have actually been alone at any point in her life? Think about it. Movies such as Someone Like You, the utterly forgettable new romantic comedy starring Ashley Judd, are primarily made for and about women. Are those women really so superficial that they wouldn’t see a lonelyhearts movie about a woman who isn’t a supermodel?
Escapism is all well and good, but a foundation of reality would do wonders to legitimize the type of feel-good nonsense and predictable storytelling that makes up any good romantic comedy. The proper actress is even available within this very film. Marisa Tomei, who plays Judd’s best friend, is perfect—she’s funny and pretty, but she also looks like someone you might actually meet someday.
Instead, we get Ashley, who in real life is probably stalked by rotating shifts of high-school boyfriends, college acquaintances, co-workers and guys who saw her on the street. Judd is Jane Goodale, a talent booker for a New York talk show hosted by Ellen Barkin. The writer-producer of said show is Eddie (Hugh Jackman), who’s a disgusting pig because he sleeps with as many hot women as possible as few times as possible. Despite the fact she looks like Ashley Judd, Jane hasn’t had a date in a dog’s age, so when new producer Ray (Greg Kinnear) sounds interested, she jumps all over him.
They’re getting ready to move in together when Ray decides he wants a relationship mulligan. Jane, who already gave up her apartment, is now homeless. So she takes a room in Eddie’s fantastic apartment, where she gets to clock the comings and goings of a gaggle of young Manhattan women getting their rocks off with Eddie.
From here, things get silly. After reading an article in The Metropolitan Times, Jane begins to obsess over male behavior as it relates to bovine behavior. Simply put, men are bulls and women are cows, and bulls never service the same cow twice. Even if you smear the scent of a new cow on an old cow, it seems, the bull is genetically predisposed to promise to call the cow, then pretend he doesn’t know her when they’re out in the pasture.
Men in the audience should love this theory. The next time they’re caught in flagrante delicto with the milklady, they can cite Someone Like You as biological precedent for their cheating heart. And it gives them an excuse to call their girlfriends cows.
Instead of pondering this theory over a morning cup of coffee and then forgetting about it as real people would, Jane somehow makes it the center of her life. She obsesses. She digs for tidbits about animal husbandry. In fact, she gets a job writing a pseudonymous column about man-animal sex behavior for a men’s magazine. Then she starts seeing a soft side to Eddie, who’s played without attitude or flair by Jackman (the Australian guy who played Wolverine in X-Men). He looks good with his shirt off, and apparently that’s enough to twist Jane’s theories in a knot.
Despite the most generic and meaningless movie title in months, there are positives here. Ashley looks great in a series of more-expensive-than-a-talent-booker-could-afford outfits, and she gets goaded into doing a cheerleading routine in her underwear that will have all the men dragged to this picture feeling like they just hit the crappy-girl-movie jackpot.
Thanks largely to a really cool apartment, Jane and Eddie have a bit of that cool-people-doing-cool-things vibe that’s essential for any sophisticated comedy to work—but the trouble is, this just isn’t a very funny script. The premise isn’t inherently funny, Judd is uncomfortable in the landscape of comedy, and the screenplay doesn’t include that many jokes. Without comedy, we’re left with a romance that’s terribly predictable, even before Jane outlines a theory we fully realize must be proven wrong in order for true love to triumph.
Someone Like You’s central premise is as silly and dishonest as Ashley’s little disclaimer before her presentation at the Academy Awards, where the $6 million-a-movie actress called herself “a little country girl.” With all these bulls and cows around, try not to step in anything.
Someone Like You (PG-13) HH Directed by Tony Goldwyn. Starring Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman and Greg Kinnear. u
Correction: In last week’s issue, the cinema column “Jack the Dripper” was written by Greg Beacham.