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by: James Berardinelli

As the product of a promising young director (in this case, Tony Goldwyn, who made a mark with his 1999 debut behind the camera, A Walk on the Moon), Someone Like You is surprisingly poorly made. It is disappointing without being inept. For most of its running length, this movie meanders unfocused, spending more time developing the lead character's cynical life-view than building up the central romance. Then, when it comes time for a climax and conclusion, we are subjected to a rushed, artificial happy ending that is unearned, and, as a result, is unsatisfying. Someone Like You could probably be charitably characterized as "cute", but there's such a lack of direction and energy that it could also be described as "sleep inducing".

The movie centers on the romantic trials and tribulations of Jane Goodale (Ashley Judd), an assistant producer for the TV Talk Show, "The Diane Roberts Show". Jane falls head-over-heels for the program's new producer, Ray (Greg Kinnear), and it isn't long before the two are involved in a serious relationship. But, just as Jane is about to begin co-habitating with Ray (and after her current apartment has been rented to someone else), Ray gets cold feet. Jane is forced to move in with her womanizing co-worker, Eddie (Hugh Jackman), as she develops a man-bashing theory about how males are always on the prowl for fresh game. Meanwhile, falling victims to standard romantic comedy plot staple #1, Jane and Eddie are drawn together, but neither is willing to admit the attraction.

Although the running time is only 95 minutes, Someone Like You seems to last much longer. There's no sense of drive or focus. The ending, which is supposed to bring closure and catharsis, is forced. The plot neglects to bring us to this point in a natural fashion. There's insufficient build-up; we are expected to accept what happens because this is the way all romantic comedies are supposed to end. If the centerpiece relationship is intended to be the one between Eddie and Jane, why spend so much time with Ray and Jane? And why not work to develop more romantic chemistry between the Eddie and Jane, so that the ending feels less like an afterthought and more like a meaningful conclusion? Someone Like You is so concerned with trivial issues and secondary relationships that it loses sight of the main couple. The movie contains only one scene with even a hint of sexual/romantic tension. (I'm referring to the one in which Jane, clad only in skimpy underwear, demonstrates an old cheerleading routine for Eddie.)

Ashley Judd, who is typically among Hollywood's highest-wattage actresses, is strangely bland and subdued. For the most part, she's not convincing and she fails to craft Jane into an interesting character. To make matters worse, Jane's best friend, Liz, is portrayed by Marisa Tomei, who evidences the kind of energy that might have resulted in a lively Jane. Tomei makes the best of a thankless part (she's on hand mainly to react), consistently outshining Judd. I kept wondering how much better the movie would have been if those two had switched places. Greg Kinnear plays a stereotypical cad. And Hugh Jackman (Wolverine in X-Men) is the best thing about the movie, injecting life into every scene in which he appears. He has the same mixture of unforced charm and good looks that makes Rupert Everett so watchable.

The movie contains its share of clever dialogue, and the storyline is suitably diverting. Granted, Jane's revelations about men (and her subsequent comparison of them to cows) are not revolutionary, nor is her change of heart (brought about when she discovers that there is such a thing as a faithful male), but all of this stuff isn't unpleasant to watch. In fact, the film as a whole has a degree of feckless charm. Unfortunately, it's also moribund, which grounds a production that should have taken flight. Romantic comedies are supposed

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