Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:35 - Released 3/30/01

I don't use the word "tripe" very often. But for some reason, during most of the running length of Tony Goldwyn's sappy romantic comedy Someone Like You, that word kept running through my mind. If this week's other release, Tomcats, represents the worst depths to which a "guy flick" could devolve, then Someone Like You is its perfect counterpart for the opposite sex. The third directorial effort for Goldwyn (A Walk On The Moon), who has appeared as an actor in films like Ghost and, more recently, The 6th Day, Someone Like You gives more evidence that Ashley Judd should never, ever be allowed in front of a camera, and though supporting performers Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman, and Marisa Tomei try their best to bring things up to par, it's like spraying cologne in a Woodstock Port-A-Pot: it's just not happening. Besides the utter putrescence of Judd's performance, the film springs from such a bad script (by Elizabeth Chandler, based on the novel by Laura Zigman), I can't imagine how anyone could make it watchable. Goldwyn is certainly not equipped. From the painfully insipid voiceover introduction, which Judd delivers like she's reading it for the first time, the dialogue is not practical, realistic, or even remotely clever, and the emotional permutations her character goes through defy credulity.

Judd plays Jane Goodale (pronounced "Goodall," like the famous scientist who studies gorillas — a very important point in this highly intelligent story), a talent coordinator for one of those yellow-journalistic TV talk shows. Early on, she introduces us to her theory about why men can't commit to real relationships: The New Cow Theory. Are you listening, Helen Gurley Brown? Bulls don't like to have sex with the same cow more than once, and men are the same way. That's about it. They are constantly seeking "the new cow" so they can fulfill their "copulatory imperative," and this forces them, beyond their control, to seek out a different woman after they've slept with the current one. Scientific, eh?

Jane's theory comes from her brief romance with co-worker Ray (Kinnear), the sensitive, romantic guy who represents one half of the male stereotype presence in the film. The other half is her other co-worker Eddie (Jackman), the cynical bastard and one-night-stand practitioner who regularly makes her "lose all faith in men." When she and Ray fall head over heels in love, like people do in these movies, she is ecstatic and fulfilled, confiding to her best friend Liz (Tomei) that everything is beautiful despite the fact that Ray already has a girlfriend whom he refers to as "the one." Then, when he inexplicably dumps her, like men do in these movies, she moves in with Eddie (who's been looking for a roomate) and comes up with her mad cow theory. As if this were not stupid enough in its own right, she then publishes her findings under a pseudonym, masquerading as an elderly female scientist named Dr. Marie Charles, and it is a runaway best seller, prompting Jane's boss (Ellen Barkin) to book the fictional Dr. Charles for an interview.

Beyond the fact that Judd is ill-equipped to do anything believable on the screen, despite that her fake giddy schoolgirl act is no more compelling than her fake man-hating pragmatist, and disregarding that she can't even pronounce the word "realtor" correctly, this film suffers from the larger issue of the poor quality text. Jane's dippy voiceovers continue ad nauseum throughout the film, explaining to us what we shouldn't need explained, and leaving us alone to fathom why the characters are doing and saying things no homo sapiens would ever do or say. Goldwyn is powerless to lift the finished product above its low-level foundation, and even if he were, he apparently lacks the clout, or the inclination, to find an actress able to handle the part. *

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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