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Introduction
I'll be the first to admit it. I'm a sucker for romantic comedies and so called chick flicks. As a guy, the guy code dictates that I should only go see these movies when a female wants to go see them. However I seem to have been born with a defective gene of some sort as I really do enjoy this type of picture. Perhaps it's that I'm a sensitive guy at heart, I just don't know. These are the type of movies that my mother seeks out when they hit the rental stores. The kind where in the end you know the girl is going to get the guy or the guy is going to get the girl. They are usually based in worlds of pure fantasy where in the end there's always a happy ending. Unfortunately real life doesn't always work out in the same way and relationships don't magically overcome major obstacles to end happily. Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and recently Jennifer Lopez usually star in these pictures, now Ashley Judd tries to break away from her past dramatic roles and join the ever-growing list of leading actresses who star in romantic comedies.

At the coffee machine.
Movie
Ashley Judd stars as Jane Goodale (no not the chimp lady), a successful talent booker for a sort of news/entertainment crossover show that is based out of New York that has just been given a chance to go national. While her career is going well her love life is another story all together. She's so dedicated to her job that she doesn't really have time to go out and find a man outside of work. Her office choices are limited to one guy named Eddie (Hugh Jackman) who is a total womaniser. However this changes when the new hotshot producer Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear) arrives in town and Jane finds herself immediately smitten. There’s a small snag though, as Ray is in the middle of a three-year relationship with a woman only known as "D". Despite the warnings of Jane's friend Liz (Marisa Tomei), Jane pursues a relationship with Ray that eventually leads to the happy couple deciding to move in together. Before this happens Ray suddenly breaks up with Jane. This leaves Jane without a place to live and causes the workplace environment to become heated. Jane has no other option but to move in with her fellow co-worker Eddie who is the exact opposite of Jane. Jane is a loving person who likes to sustain a long-term relationship. Eddie on the other hand prefers short one-night stand sexual encounters that have no room for emotional baggage. One day, to keep busy, Jane begins to look into the sexual patterns of animals and begins working on theories about how the actions of cows and men are similar. She discusses these with Liz who thinks she should write a column in the magazine Liz works as an editor for. Initially Jane is reluctant to do this but agrees after Liz allows her to use a pen name and create a phoney background. These articles become a hit but for Jane they begin to be proven wrong as her relationships seem to be continually changing.

As a film in the romantic comedy genre it's fairly evident from the get-go that in the end our heroine Jane will end up with a suitor. After all that's a given with these movies. So instead of questioning what will happen at the end, the question becomes how will our characters get to the fairly tale ending. In some movies this can be very interesting and in some it can be downright tedious. In the case of Someone Like You it's the latter rather then the former. I never really cared about the characters or their actions and their personalities downright annoyed me. The characters don't really click nor do I see what Jane's attraction is to Ray and Eddie. The running time of ninety-seven minutes seems like an eternity not only because of the pacing, but because of the characters and their actions.

Ashley Judd has proven that she's a talented actress and a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. From the first time I saw this southern siren in Kiss the Girls I knew that she'd become a huge star. Since then I've followed her career with great interest in films like Double Jeopardy and Where the Heart Is. Until now Judd has focused on more dramatic type roles, which suit her quite well. Someone Like You is her first attempt at a comedic picture. She shows promise of comedic talent in the role of Jane but I couldn't get past the annoying little tendencies the character had. I don't fault Ashley for this as I think it's the way the character was written, and certainly the film would be even worse off with someone with less talented in the role. Australian born actor Hugh Jackman, who made his breakout performance in X-Men, is an actor on the rise in North America. Generally I like his style of acting and while he does have a flair for comedy, the material he is given here is a tad lacking. Hugh does what he can to drive up the laughs but in the end it still comes up too short. Greg Kinnear, who usually brings a laugh to my face with his deadpan performances, fails to do so here as it appears he's sleep walking through his role. Marisa Tomei lights up the few scenes she's in just as she did in the Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt romantic comedy “What Women Want”. Tomei, who has been seen in primarily smaller roles since her big breakout picture “My Cousin Vinny” in 1992 should maybe consider going for some more leads.

Someone Like You is based on the novel “Animal Husbandry” by Laura Zigman, and adapted for the screen is by Elizabeth Chandler. Having not read the book I'm unsure if the problems originate with the source material or in the translation from page to screen. Director Tony Goldwyn, who was last seen as an actor in Bounce and The 6th Day, and last directed 1999's A Walk on the Moon, is unsure how to handle the material here. He directs Ashley Judd to play her role as an adult version of a whiny, bratty, spoiled girl. He doesn't manage to get inspired performances from any of his cast and sort of drops the ball in the inclusion of some scenes. I would have directed this movie very differently. Goldwyn spends far too much time on scenes that carry little importance and when it comes to conclusion it seems forced and almost out of place. If there had been further character development between Jane and Eddie then the ending would have worked better. Romantic comedies are also supposed to have funny, quirky and cute moments, which Someone Like You has very few of.

For the ladies
Someone Like You is not the worst romantic comedy I've ever seen, but it's far from the best. In the hands of a more accomplished director and screenwriter and with a tried and true romantic comedy star this could have been a far superior film. Still, poor uninspired performances, a below average screenplay and some bad directorial choices cause Someone Like You to be down near the bottom of my 2001 movie list.

Video
20th Century Fox presents Someone Like You in it's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and like most new releases from any major studio is enhanced for anamorphic displays. Although this is not a reference quality transfer it definitely has more pros than cons. The colours are vibrant and strong with flesh tones seeming dead on. The film contains a number of outdoor sequences shot in beautiful New York City, which are very nicely presented on this disc. These scenes are sharp and extremely detailed and really show off the DVD format nicely. Interior scenes lack this same quality though appearing a bit muddy and on the soft side. The transfer isn't problem free as the disc features some minor edge enhancement and one or two speckles of dust sneak their way onto the print. The print used seems to be in excellent shape as the problems that are really minor in nature and in no way affect one's enjoyment of viewing the disc. Someone Like You is another in a long line of excellent transfers from Fox.

Audio
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the soundtrack for Someone Like You is the typical presentation for a romantic comedy. The approach to this soundtrack is a basic one.  The audio tends to stick to the front with only the occasional ambient sounds or music coming from the rear speakers. Dialog is clear and is easily heard in the mix. As a soundtrack for a romantic comedy it tends to use the surrounds more then most films do but I found that I was wanting more surround play then I received. The similarly themed film “What Women Want” had a fair more enveloping soundtrack, which I now hold as sort of the de facto standard of what one could do with a romantic comedy mix. Someone Like You doesn't have the most creative mix in the world but it does its job and is problem free.

Extras
20th Century Fox gives Someone Like You a fairly decent slate of extra features for its DVD release. Leading off the disc is the audio commentary with director Tony Goldwyn. Tony is first and foremost an actor and as such offers some unique insights into directing and working with actors. Tony talks in depth about all aspects of this film from the changes made from the novel, to music selection, pacing and how he got involved in the project. While he begins a little shaky he quickly gets passed it and goes on to offer a truly informative track. Pauses are few and far between and while the track does head towards self-congratulatory praise it veers away again before it becomes too much to take. Overall this is an interesting track that's worth listening to at least once.

Seven Deleted Scenes are included with optional audio commentary from the director.  The quality of the footage that make up these scenes seems to have come from workprints, black and white footage and some from the finished film itself. It seems the primary reason these fell under the editors knife was pacing. Most of these scenes involved long sections of dialogue and I feel they were rightfully cut because the movie was already running long for my liking at ninety-seven minutes.

Also included are five TV Spots, the films theatrical trailer and a five-minute promotional featurette for the movie, which essentially is the trailer with some interview footage interspersed.

While not a full-blown special edition along the lines of their recent two disc Die Hard releases, or even the single disc SE edition of Monkeybone, Fox still manages to pull together a small collection of extras for the disc.  

For the men
Overall
Someone Like You is likely to fall towards the bottom of my 2001 review list. It was lacking almost everything I look for in a romantic comedy. Still, Fox presents good audio/video quality and a handful of extras making the DVD somewhat appealing.  Fans of the film will be happy with this disc. If your a male reader and your reading this then I'm sure this disc will eventually make it into your house as at least a rental as it seems females will want to rent and watch this movie. The best way to look at things, if your forced to watch the movie, is that it is Ashley Judd, and despite her really annoying character traits she is still very easy on the eyes. As a fan of the genre Someone Like You disappointed me greatly and really didn't do much for me at all. If you’re looking for a good romantic comedy then check out “The Wedding Planner” or “What Women Want” which are far superior movies ahead of Someone Like You.


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