Friday March 30, 2001
"Someone Like You" is a jaunty romantic comedy that's a comfortable fit for Ashley Judd, who in turn is surrounded by a stellar supporting cast. There are silly running gags regarding bovine behavior that are ultimately deftly turned back on themselves at the picture's moment of truth. "Someone Like You," adapted by Elizabeth Chandler from Laura Zigman's novel "Animal Husbandry," is smart, amiable and well-paced, and director Tony Goldwyn brings to it an all-too-rare buoyancy and breeziness.
Judd's Jane Goodale is a lovely, down-to-earth young woman with a good sense of humor. It's a quality that comes in handy as a key member of the production team for edgy New York talk-show personality Diane Roberts (Ellen Barkin), whose local success fires up her determination to go nationwide. "Get me ungettable guests!" is her constant demand in daily staff meetings. Jane and her best pal Liz (Marisa Tomei), a magazine journalist, are at the moment unattached and naturally are preoccupied with the pitfalls of the dating game in their pursuit of true love.
Just at the moment when she's despairing of finding Mr. Right, he walks right into her life. He's charming, low-key, boyishly handsome Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear), Diane's new executive producer. Ray is clearly as taken by Jane as she is by him and Liz argues persuasively that Jane should simply disregard the fact that Ray has been seeing someone for three years. What's more, she's reassured when Ray himself admits that the bloom is off his long-standing romance.
So perfectly attuned are Jane and Ray that their relationship develops with such swiftness that after only six weeks they've embarked on apartment-hunting. You just know that their love story is proceeding too perfectly not to hit a snag, one so drastic that Jane ends up without a roof over her head. She finds herself doing that last thing on earth she has sworn she would ever do: take a room in the loft of her co-worker Eddie (Hugh Jackman), an unabashed womanizer.
Deeply hurt by Ray, Jane consoles herself with a research project with which she hopes to convince herself that men are like bulls--once they've mated with a cow they lose interest. Monogamy just isn't in male genes, insists Jane. This preoccupation smacks of contrivance in search of comic zaniness; luckily, the film doesn't overdo this angle.
Of more interest is the gradual, even subtle way in which Jane becomes increasingly aware that Eddie is not quite the cynical playboy he seems, any more than Ray is the knight in shining armor he initially appeared to be. Some of the film's wisest observations come out of Eddie's mouth, and Jackman (Wolverine in last summer's hit "X-Men") makes the most of them.
An actor himself, Goldwyn guides his cast ably; they make deeper, more distinctive impressions than is usual for such films. Kinnear, Jackman, Tomei and Barkin more than support Judd capably, emerging as sharply defined presences in their own right.
This is especially true of Barkin, who's off-screen for lengthy stretches only to reemerge stronger than ever; so striking and sultry is Barkin that it's tantalizing to consider a movie with Diane as the central figure. Judd's beguiling naturalness works for her in romantic comedy as well as it has in serious dramas and thrillers. (Pay close attention and you'll spot Judd's mother Naomi playing a makeup artist on Diane's TV show.)
Dan Leigh's sets and Ann Roth and Michelle Maitlin's costumes are stylish yet understated, and Rolfe Kent's score keys the film's shifting moods; Anthony B. Richmond's cinematography similarly glows without ever being flashy.
Someone Like You, 2001. PG-13 for sexual content, including dialogue, and for some language. A Fox 2000 Pictures presentation. Director Tony Goldwyn. Producer Lynda Obst. Screenplay Elizabeth Chandler; based on the novel "Animal Husbandry" by Laura Zigman. Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond. Editor Dana Congdon. Music Rolfe Kent. Costumes Ann Roth and Michelle Maitlin. Production designer Dan Leigh. Art director Fredda Slavin. Set decorator Christine Moosher. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. Ashley Judd as Jane Goodale. Greg Kinnear as Ray Brown. Hugh Jackman as Eddie Alden. Marisa Tomei as Liz. Ellen Barkin as Diane Roberts[.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times