Someone Like You... [2001]

Despite its foregone conclusion, Someone Like You is an agreeable romantic comedy about how people construct elaborate defenses to cope with emotional anguish. Based on Laura Zigman's novel Animal Husbandry, the movie is purely formulaic, with a heroine's best friend (played here by Marisa Tomei) and other supporting roles that come straight from central casting. Even the lovelorn heroine is standard-issue for the genre, but as emotionally devastated talk-show booker Jane Goodale, Ashley Judd brings intelligent charm to a role that could have been maudlin and pathetic. For a while, Jane is pathetic: after being dumped by her seemingly devoted boyfriend Ray (Greg Kinnear), she turns heartbreak into a hobby, creating self-assuring theories about male behavior based on the mating habits of cows. She comforts herself with the certainty that all men are scum, when really she just can't accept rejection. Cast adrift, Jane accepts a roommate offer from her womanizing colleague Eddie (X-Men's Hugh Jackman), who's been nursing his own heartbreak with lots of casual sex. You can see where this is going, and actor-director Tony Goldwyn (following his underrated drama Walk on the Moon) doesn't offer any surprises. But Goldwyn is alert to the comedy of human foibles, and the movie peaks when Jane's defenses are down and Judd's appeal shines at full intensity. At her best, Judd makes an average script better than it has a right to be, and while Kinnear perfects his smarmy routine, Jackman matches them both with star-making sincerity. Someone Like You won't win any awards for originality, but it's universal in its comedic sympathy for the brokenhearted. --Jeff Shannon

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