Jane Goodale (Ashley Judd) is a lonely woman living alone in New York City with a successful career and a loyal best friend (Marisa Tomei). When she meets the man of her dreams (Greg Kinnear) at work, Jane finally finds the happiness she has always longed for. When the relationship sours right on the verge of long-term commitment, Jane begins to study the mating habits of the animal world to find answers to why men cannot commit to one woman for long periods of time. Finding herself homeless, Jane moves in with Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman), her womanizing co-worker. Jane is appalled by Eddie's misogyny, yet she is attracted to his honesty. Romantic entanglements ensue.
At a quick glance, "Someone Like You" (IMDb listing) has the pricey appearance of an Ikea endurance test. With female characters holding down jobs that seem to populate every film about successful women (magazine editor, television producer), glorious New York City locals and sights (every apartment has a stunning view of the city), and people you can't relate to and situations you would never find yourself in, "Someone Like You" has been assembled for mass acceptance. Somehow, "Someone" seems to sidestep these ugly components for most of the film's duration. It's a bright, cheery film, yet one that isn't an absolute success.
Tony Goldwyn's last contribution to the cinema was his melodramatic 1999 sleeper "A Walk on the Moon." I was quite worried seeing his name listed as "Someone's" director since "Moon" was a movie with great potential that dropped to its knees in the service of hilariously overblown romantic imagery and misdirected performances. "Someone Like You" wobbles a bit when it comes down to sound storytelling, but Goldwyn has cast his new film well, and he's smart enough to leave them alone to shoulder the material.
Ashley Judd is absolutely sublime in "Someone Like You." Like a ray of sunshine, Judd brightens up the proceedings with each and every new scene. Going beyond simple good looks and a sharp wardrobe to rely on, Judd is endlessly motivated to convince us all that she's got a stable theory on why men are not monogamous. So blissfully energetic in "Someone," Judd often resembles a junior high school spaz. How many of your favorite actresses have allowed themselves the freedom to do that? Without Judd and her enthusiasm, "Someone Like You" would not nearly register as much as it does with her behind the wheel.
Coming off his "X-Men" smash performance, Hugh Jackman has the trickier role of the self-absorbed jerk. For better or worse, Jackman pulls off the role like the pro that he is. He is a commanding presence, and "Someone Like You" crystallizes his future as a true star of the silver screen. In the third-wheel role, Greg Kinnear continues to shed his smarmy, hot shot persona so ingrained in the moviegoing public's mind. He plays a likable chump in "Someone," but Kinnear avoids all his customary smirks and sarcasm. It's baby steps for Kinnear, but he's slowly coming around to be a reasonable actor.
Based on the novel "Animal Husbandry" by Laura Zigman, "Someone Like You" has the smell of being watered down from its original incarnation. The plot is loopy, so much so that this mainstream comedy couldn't bear the weight if it took on all the novel's eccentricities. Goldwyn is pushing the narrative into recognized romantic comedy, so when the inevitable climax of delight arrives, it doesn't feel earned, or particularly thrilling. It even betrays the Jackman character's manifesto. As pleasant as "Someone Like You" is to watch, no new ground is being struck here. It's more the Ashley Judd show, and that's good enough for me.
Filmfodder Grade: C+