July 2, 2001 -- Romantic comedies have long been a staple of American cinema, and "Someone Like You" is very solidly in that tradition. It is a well-directed, polished production with top-notch acting talent.
Making a successful romantic comedy is not easy. It is a balancing act. It is difficult to sustain the romantic tension for more than an hour. This screenplay, by Elizabeth Chandler ("A Little Princess"), achieves that goal by using a romantic triangle with a bit of a twist. Jane Goodale (played by Ashley Judd of "Where the Heart is") is attracted to Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear of "The Gift"), but through a quirk of fate ends up with playboy Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman of "Swordfish") as a roommate when she loses her apartment lease.
After being dumped by Brown, Goodale (pronounced Goodall, like the primate researcher) does some research and comes up with an elaborate theory about why men sleep around. It is based on research into the mating habits of cows. Bulls don't want to mate with cows they've already mated with. She concludes that Brown doesn't want her any more because she is an "old cow." Her theory becomes so elaborate that her friend, Liz (Marisa Tomei of "What Women Want"), persuades her to start a magazine column expounding her views. To give the column more credibility, the two come up with a fake name, fake academic credentials, and even a fake photograph of an older woman. The column becomes a hit.
Goodale is attracted to Alden, but he represents the embodiment of her theory. A notorious womanizer, he is unwilling and seemingly unable to comit to a prolonged relationship. Then Brown approaches Goodale, hoping to reconcile their differences. It is a surprisingly effective romantic triangle. Nothing is quite what it seems to be on the surface. The screenplay plays with feminism and male chauvenism with equal alacrity. Both Judd and Jackman play both strong and vulnerable, revealing their romantic wounds to each other, but doing what is necessary to get on with their lives. Kinnear is adept at being smooth, oily and treacherous. Tomei, Ellen Barkin (of "Drop Dead Gorgeous") and the rest of the supporting cast, are top-notch.
Tony Goldwyn shows just the right touch as a director, as he did in his last film, "A Walk on the Moon." Goldwyn, a long time actor in Hollywood, is a newbie director, but a good one. As you would expect, he gets the most out of his actors, but he also gets the most out of the script. The film is very slick, with solid production values; a strong, professional product. It rates a B.
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