At the Movies: ‘Someone Like You’
Does the title of a movie matter? Can it change the quality of the picture?
Would ”Cast Away” have the same resonance if it were ”Castaway”? Would ”Dude, Where’s My Car?” be as silly if it were simply ”Where’s My Car?”
Let’s experiment with the new Ashley Judd film ”Someone Like You,” which previously was titled ”Animal Husbandry.”
”Someone Like You” implies a romantic comedy. Like all bland romantic comedies, the title is a vague reference to something in the second person.
It hails from the tradition of ”Only You,” ”It Can Happen to You,” ”Down to You” and ”’Til There Was You.”
Each could just as easily have been called ”You Know What to Expect.”
But take the aforementioned Ashley Judd movie, change the title back to ”Animal Husbandry,” and you’ve got something different: a sex comedy.
The film brims with off-color remarks about goatish males and sheepish women and takes a fun look at relationships between men and women in terms of the wild kingdom.
Such jocularity seems slightly discordant in ”Someone Like You.” The audience waits for vanilla romance and gets ribald jokes about copulating cows.
Did executives at 20th Century Fox think ”Animal Husbandry” was too hard to market to the date crowd? Author Laura Zigman’s novel, on which the movie was based, used that title and still developed a strong following.
Director Tony Goldwyn’s movie, meanwhile, has the necessary elements of a romantic comedy, but it’s not a cookie-cutter product.
Sure, there’s that saccharine conclusion where the two star-crossed lovers embrace on a bustling street while a romantic ballad swells on the soundtrack. But the story’s cynical edge makes this requisite conclusion bearable.
Judd plays an offbeat TV talk-show talent booker who falls for the perfect man (”As Good As It Gets” Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear.)
Ah, but Kinnear’s veneer of handsome compassion is a fraud. After the couple commits to sharing an apartment, he inexplicably jilts Judd, leaving her not only heartbroken, but homeless.
What happened? He offers no conclusive explanation.
Judd obsesses over the failed romance and, desperate for an apartment, agrees to rent an extra room from the office tomcat (Hugh Jackman).
Jackman, whose turn as the snarling superhero Wolverine in ”X-men” adds a twist to this role, plays your standard womanizer: charming, good-looking and promiscuous.
Unable to avoid noticing her new roommate’s dating habits, Judd develops a theory about human relationships that is based partly on a news article she reads about … animal husbandry.
The report documents the plight of dairy farmers trying to mate cows. Bulls eagerly couple with a female, but only once. After that, they move on to, say, greener pastures to spread their seed.
The rest of the movie follows Judd as she tries to apply this ”old cow” theory to the relationships around her.
There’s a subtle poignance to this quest because she needs to believe it’s innate in all men to reject their mates eventually. Otherwise, she reasons, her love affairs fails because she is flawed.
”Someone Like You,” is an enjoyable, funny love story, but it deserves a better introduction to moviegoers than the bland, cowardly title allows.
The Fox 2000 release is rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, and for some language. Running time: 93 minutes.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:
G – General audiences. All ages admitted.
PG – Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 – Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.
R – Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted.
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