Romance Hits Bull's Eye
Some people go to unreasonable lengths to rationalize their romantic failures. Isnít that why astrology and fortune-tellers are so popular? In Someone Like You, lovely Ashley Judd plays one of these misguided individuals. Frequently dumped, her character develops a ridiculous idea called "The New Cow Theory" as a way of explaining why men leave women. I know what youíre thinking. Men dumping the charming Judd? That does take quite a suspension of disbelief, but the delightful actress makes this quirky role work for her.
Ably assisted by Hugh Jackman as her womanizing room- mate and Greg Kinnear as her latest ex, Judd turns in her best performance since Simon Birch. Her portrayal of Jane Goodale, a talent booker for a popular television talk show, reveals the Double Jeopardy starís previously unknown flair for comedy. Judd is surprisingly funny, especially when dictating a bio for the nonexistent scientist/author Jane pretends to be. "Dr. Marie Charles (her pseudonym) is a co-founder of the Institute for Pathological Narcissism," our heroine begins --- with an impish grin that tells us weíre in for a fun ride.
Displaying the same powerful charisma that won him rave reviews as Wolverine in X-Men, Jackman simply ignites the screen in all his scenes. I predict great things for this handsome Australian actor. Playing Eddie, a man hurt once who tries to stop his emotional pain with casual sex (Jane refers to him as "The Poster Bull"), Jackman projects macho magic tempered with a streak of sensitivity. Any woman who can resist him, particularly in a scene showing Eddie just holding Jane all night to comfort her, should resign from Romantics Anonymous. Waking first, he gently smells her hair, looks longingly at her for a brief moment, then pretends to be asleep --- thus creating one of the yearís most tender film moments.
Oscar-nominee Kinnear (for As Good As It Gets) completes the love triangle as Ray, an executive producer who breaks Janeís heart. While heís excellent in this type of role, Kinnear needs to branch out and do something more challenging for a change --- something more like his egocentric superhero in Mystery Men. (He was the only one worth watching in that bomb.) Still, Kinnearís Ray emerges as a perfect contrast to Jackmanís Eddie. Ray Ďs problem with over-commitment and his inability to go the distance seem believable because of Kinnearís expert interpretation of this character. With his clean-cut good looks and intense facial expressions, Ray canít help attracting women, and Kinnear makes it easy to understand Rayís appeal to the opposite sex.
Among the supporting cast, Marisa Tomei (Oscar-winner for My Cousin Vinny) and Ellen Barkin (Drop Dead Gorgeous) do themselves proud as Janeís wisecracking best friend and ambitious boss respectively. Tomei delivers one of the movieís most biting lines when she consoles Jane by reminding her "Time wounds all heels." And Barkin exudes nervous energy in the role of a high-powered talk-show host.
Someone Like You benefits from a witty script by Elizabeth Chandler (The Little Princess) who adapted it from Laura Ziglerís novel Animal Husbandry. Itís only flaw is a rushed ending that requires the leading lady to renounce her theory without sufficient explanation. Deftly directed by Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon), this romantic comedy concludes with a message similar to the one in When Harry Met Sally, a 1989 classic that emphasized the importance of being good friends before becoming lovers. Twelve years later, thatís still sound advice.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "PG-13" for sexual content including dialogue and for some language.)