Hugh Jackman? Hugh Jackman, Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman — Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman. (Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman.) Hugh Jackman.
An unfortunate decision to change the title of this film from the distinctive Animal Husbandry (which is also the name of the Laura Zigman novel upon which the film is based) to the bland and generic Someone Like You is leading many folks, I’m sure, to the same experience I had at the box office when I attempted to purchase tickets for this film: “Um, it’s that ‘S’ movie. No, not Say It Isn’t So…”
Remember it this way: It’s the movie that’s got Hugh Jackman in it.
That is all.
Oh, you mean that’s not enough to get you into the theater? You’d like some more reasons why a film that’s been panned by too many critics is worth your valuable time?
All right, then.
Someone Like You is the story of Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman: X-Men), unrepentant womanizer whose unrepentant womanizing is but a shield to prevent him from getting his heart broken again. Also appearing in the film, I seem to recall, are Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy, A Time To Kill) as Jane Goodale, Eddie’s coworker at a New York TV talk show hosted by Diane Roberts (Ellen Barkin), and Greg Kinnear (The Gift, Nurse Betty) as Ray Brown, the producer of the show — Jane and Ray are desperately, madly, passionately in love with each other. Which Eddie finds hilarious, because he thinks love is bullshit. Which is only because his heart has been broken into a million pieces and he simply cannot deal with it. Come here, sweetie, and let me help you feel better.
Ah, but when Ray dumps Jane, she becomes the female counterpart of an unrepentant womanizer: the bitter woman who vows to have nothing to do with men ever again. She secretly begins writing a magazine column — her best friend, Liz (Marisa Tomei), is an editor at the men’s magazine M — about why men can’t commit, which has a lot to do with pseudoscientific comparisons with farm animals.
Funny stuff… and much, much funnier than your standard romantic comedy tends to make such bald generalizations about men and women and relationships because this isn’t a film about — as so many rom-coms are — setting up ridiculous and unlikely obstacles to keeping our inevitable lovers apart until the last reel, but about deeply hurt people who set up their own obstacles to happiness, in the way that real people sabotage their love lives. (Delightfully, this down-to-earth realism also means that the “villains” here aren’t evil, just romantically screwed up, like the “heroes.”) Very few of us will ever face the problem of having to convince our longtime significant other to get married within the next day — forcing us to overcome our longtime fear of commitment — lest we lose a multimillion-dollar inheritance (see the awful The Bachelor)… but many of us do do the things that Eddie and Jane do: attempt to convince ourselves that the risk of a broken heart isn’t worth chancing love again by creating elaborate reasons why love is bullshit. And because the obstacles that keep our lovers apart are all in their heads, it’s not as forgone a conclusion — as it usually is in these kinds of films — that they will end up together at the end.
It’s tough to craft a romantic comedy that’s authentic, romantic, funny, and sad all at the same time, but director Tony Goldwyn (who appeared as an actor in Bounce and Tarzan) and screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler do a lovely job of it… along with, of course, the wonderful cast.
Oh, and did I mention that Hugh Jackman is in this movie, too?