“Someone Like You” is a romantic comedy as lamely generic as its title. This adaptation of Laura Zigman’s popular novel “Animal Husbandry” leaves no stone unturned in its attempt to be as conventional and predictable as possible, from its man-obsessed girltalk to its climactic sidewalk clinch. Fox release will get some mileage out of its intended young adult female audience due to the attractive cast, notably up-and-coming hunk Hugh Jackman, but guys will run the other way, resulting in a mild B.O. destiny.
As laid out in an opening mockumentary about the mating habits of bulls, pic casts its central Mars/Venus sexual equation in barnyard terms and makes as its exclusive subject the idea that all men are serial seducers for whom women are “old cows” once they’ve been had.
Offering living proof of this theory is Eddie (Jackman), an effortlessly attractive young bar hopper who greatly enjoys the lack of complications attached to a here today-gone tomorrow social life. At work he’s good buddies with Jane (Ashley Judd), a talent booker for topical TV chat show host Diane Roberts (Ellen Barkin). Jane’s an instant pushover for the program’s cute new exec producer, Ray (Greg Kinnear). For Jane and, seemingly, for Ray as well, this is True Love, and Jane has already given up her Chinatown apartment and planned her move into Ray’s digs when he, for no articulated reason, lowers the boom and tells her hasta la vista, baby.
Aghast and astounded, the exceedingly attractive and intelligent Jane can’t begin to comprehend why she was so unceremoniously dumped, and as a short-term solution to her housing crisis accepts Eddie’s invitation to move into his enormous two-bedroom loft. She also begins obsessive research into her man-as-beast formulations, seizing on such factoids as how only five percent of males in the animal kingdom are monogamous and finally capitulating to the entreaties of confidante and men’s magazine editor Liz (Marisa Tomei) to write what becomes a hugely popular series of articles about the baseness of the male human animal.
Of course, Jane must accustom herself to the revolving door policy for females at Eddie’s loft. But there are also occasions when the two of them hang out late at night wearing only their skimpiest garb, and if there’s anyone who can’t figure out where this story is headed, they haven’t seen a movie before.
As written in the adaptation by Elizabeth Chandler, Jane would seem to be a more neurotic, unresolved character than could possibly be played by Judd, who, no matter the part, can’t help but seem like the healthiest, best-adjusted, most confidant young woman in America.
A tad over-groomed here for a young professional of Jane’s station, Judd tries hard to convince as an off-balance victim who lashes back with a notion she eventually admits is cockeyed, but the actress is congenitally incapable of conveying vulnerability, the trait her character most needs to embody. What Judd needs now is not more roles like the one here or in “Where the Heart Is” last year, but a good kick-butt part like the contempo equivalent of Ripley in “Alien.”
Kinnear, called upon to be warmly seductive for the first half-hour and sheepishly apologetic for the remainder, delivers easily, although we never do learn why he bailed on such a great girlfriend. And despite the forgettable nature of the movie itself, Jackman will further his fan base as a redeemable rake of many women’s fantasies.
By this time, Tomei has all her moves down as the best friend who’s as good at listening as she is at kvetching.
Pushing all the prescribed buttons and displaying an alarming willingness to fall into cutesy cliches, director Tony Goldwyn exhibits little of the attentiveness to character and milieu detail that he did in his first feature, “A Walk on the Moon.” Inevitability of the plotting and lack of modulated rhythm make the 97-minute running time feel longer than it is. Anthony B. Richmond’s lensing makes the actors and New York City (locations are exclusively below 14th Street) look great.