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IN SHORT: Same old same old. [Rated PG-13 for Some Sexual Content including Dialogue and Some Language. 98 minutes]
What more could any broadcast professional want than a network gig booking talent for a newly nationally syndicated talk show and a great New York City apartment and a slow to develop but perfect in every way romance? How about hearing those three little words that all would be New Yorkers (she's from Cincinnati) want to hear . . . ?
Apartment to Rent.
Actually, New Yorkers prefer to hear the words "rent stabilized" first but that's not important here. True, Jane Goodall (Ashley Judd) knows she probably shouldn't be messing with Executive Producer Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear), but they've looked at apartments and he has said "I Love You" and told her that he is going to break it off with his girlfriend of three years, a mysterious woman named "Dee".
Ray said it. He meant it. He said he meant it when he said it but when push comes to shove he not only bails on the apartment they've picked but on the relationship as well. Unlike anyone who has learned anything about New York, Jane has given up the lease on her apartment. With nowhere to go, she takes a spare room with yet another coworker, a womanizer who has no commitment to the concept of commitment, Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman). She keeps her job with teevee hose Diane Lane (Ellen Barkin) and things don't get as tense as they should.
We can make a short list of genres Someone Like You doesn't fit into. It isn't a romantic comedy as it falls way short on the latter and, unfortunately, leaves little to chance for the former -- there is only one place to go if the film follows the usual format, which puts us in conflict with our rule not to reveal what happens in the Third Act. It isn't an "all men are scum" themed movie, though it could be. It isn't particularly attention provoking; we thought that may be a "guy thing"but our femme friend wasn't moved either.
Discovering an article in the New York Times detailing scientific analysis of the mating habits of bulls and cows, Jane begins to research how animals mate. More often than not, all she has to do is pay close attention to the actions of Eddie. Jane develops something she calls the "old cow" theory and at the insistence of friend Liz (Marisa Tomei) takes on a pseudonymous identity, as elderly psychologist writer Dr. Marie Charles, to expound upon her theories in a magazine column. The column succeeds beyond anyone's wildest expectations. The problem here is that all the success happens off screen and the situations such success would present in real life, maintaining two job and the secret identity at the same time, don't have any impact in Elizabeth Chandler's script.
The decision to let Ms. Judd narrate the story, with occasional screen titles to break up sequences and deliver small chuckles fails to ignite the comedy. You'll find more comic action in the background sequences involving a Male Scientist (Keith Reddin) and Female Scientist (Sue Jin Song) than anywhere else in the movie. Since director Tony Goldwyn occasionally allows extra actors to handle some of the narration, usually to set up a gag for Ms. Judd, it's too bad he didn't let Reddin loose. The man is a very funny dude with his own writing credentials (The Alarmist) and an ability to spew gobbledygook (scientific or otherwise) that would put you on the floor.
The point of Someone Like You is to try to push a good dramatic actor into realms she hasn't touched, comedy, to help boost her star factor. The story suffers as a result and Ms. Judd doesn't get to get to apply much of her talent to a rather ordinary and predictable tale.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Someone Like You, he would have paid...
A chuckle here and a chuckle there may a rental make, if there's nothing else on the shelf.
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