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'Someone Like You'

Disappointing 'Someone Like You' explores male bovine behavior

Friday, March 30, 2001

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

What a week for women.

First, People magazine declares "Healthy Bodies Are Back" and uses -- among others -- slender sirens Charlize Theron and Portia de Rossi to make its point. Then, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez decides it's acceptable to wear a gown with a filmy, see-through bodice to the Academy Awards. And the message that sends to the starry-eyed teens watching is ... what?

'Someone Like You'

RATING: PG-13 for sexual content, including dialogue and some language.

STARRING: Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman

DIRECTOR: Tony Goldwyn

WEB SITE: www.someonelike



And now, the Laura Zigman novel "Animal Husbandry" has been turned into a disappointing movie with a white-bread title, "Someone Like You." It could have been a killer chick flick; guess we'll have to wait until Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant appear in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and see if that movie gets it right.

"Someone Like You" advances the notion that women who look like Ashley Judd and Marisa Tomei have trouble meeting men. It suggests that the people who work behind the scenes of a TV talk show are clueless about affairs being conducted under their noses.

And it changes the book's ending, so that all of its funny theories about men, women and relationships are poured into Cinderella's slipper. It's as if screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler ("Afterburn," "A Little Princess") and director Tony Goldwyn had watched one too many 1950s Doris Day-Rock Hudson movies. They just can't make this romantic comedy work, despite the aid of cute title cards, voiceover and a soundtrack that includes a song by Wynonna Judd.

The movie stars Ashley Judd as Jane Goodale, a talent booker for a New York talk show. Her job is to "supply fresh meat," an appropriate metaphor given her later adoption of animal mating habits as explanations for human behavior.

Jane's life changes when an executive producer named Ray (Greg Kinnear) joins the staff. Although Ray says he has a girlfriend, he befriends and woos Jane and declares his love after six weeks. He even suggests they move in together but just as they're about to sign a lease on a dream apartment with a balcony, Ray recedes from her life without explanation.

She's left with no place to live and, partially to punish Ray, agrees to move in with another co-worker, Eddie (a sizzling Hugh Jackman, freed of his X-Men Wolverine makeup). When it comes to women, let's just say he could give Russell Crowe a run for his money.

As Jane tries to puzzle out what happened with Ray, she becomes obsessed with male bovine behavior, including whether bulls will mate with cows more than once. That leads to lots of discussion about Old Cows and New Cows, as Jane observes Eddie and his parade of women, her best friend Liz (Tomei), her ambitious boss (Ellen Barkin) and her sister and brother-in-law, who are desperate to have a baby.

"Someone Like You" breaks down near the end, just when it wants you to believe everything is falling into place.

Judd is a cooler, more cerebral romantic heroine than Meg Ryan or even Gwyneth Paltrow; she almost seems too smart and young to dabble in Jane's ditsy despair. Tomei, the mystery Oscar winner for "My Cousin Vinny," does a sharp turn as a magazine editor and single gal. Kinnear again takes a role challenging his nice-guy image, while Jackman radiates sex appeal and emerges as the real star.

To paraphrase Jane, "Someone Like You" wants to be the movie version of New Cow, but it's really Old Cow. Or mad cow. Or fractured fairy tale. Take your pick and make way for Bridget Jones.

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