Someone Like You... ½

This is such a terrible film for the family members of the cast, if you imagine a lot of these people getting their first big break in this vehicle.

Think about it.

Greg Kinnear. Not only is he compared to Hugh Jackman, portrayed as a womanizer, in the opening minutes of the film for the purpose of painting "nice guys" as unreliable, cowardly heartbreakers. But he is also denied any explanation, any reason for what he does. He's to this romantic comedy what Josh Porter is to The Office, telling Ashley Judd he's just accepted a competing offer from Staples. "I'm sorry, it's done."

"I'm sorry, it's done."

Those are Josh's words, not Greg's. But it's the exact same emotional impact without the fascinating context of a character who had been riding the borderline of being a jerk. That bit of detail confirmed it. With Kinnear's character, your only clue that he was going to let Judd down was that he was treated by the movie as... Look at the poster image on Letterboxd right now. He's the "angel" on her shoulder and Jackman is the "devil." But, what's that old saying? Better the devil you know? Now, I literally was calling out the second I saw the movie comparing these 2 guys that the point was to use Kinnear to pull the rug out from under Judd and I was right. It doesn't make me an expert predictor, it's the movie being absurdly obvious.

Marisa Tomei. This was not a great time in her career. She played one spun out, highly strung single woman desperate for affection after another in movie (What Women Want) after movie (The Guru) after movie (this). And I mean spun-strung like Brittany Murphy spun-strung. (More a comment on how Hollywood has no respect for great actresses with immense talent, so I think they started squeezing their great dramatic chops into shitty comic B-parts.) Romance was her drug and she was failing to score like it was getting around time to start pawning her stuff. Her part here is to smoke and kiss + tell without shame and talk brashly in public until she realizes she's been left alone in a bar after picking up a full round of drinks for invisible friends. She has no identity that isn't both stock and shared by the other women in the film. So it's spread thin already. Very much like this movie's theory on male cows who are not labeled "new" or "old" themselves. (How's that for forward-thinking?)

Speaking of What Women Want, Hugh Jackman is literally Mel Gibson's character from said film filtered through a universe where womanizers are void of any character flaws. To keep him perfect, and therefore: unrealistic and unrelatable, he's only available for one night stands because Some Woman Done Him Wrong. Which this film of course takes to ridiculous lengths. Like with any conversation where cows come up (not a sentence I ever thought I'd type), every subsequent mention of Said Woman Who Done Him Wrong (where, oh where, have all the cowboys gone?) is perfectly redundant. A pen rolling down the checklist, reminding the audience in case they'd forgotten. (I don't care how hard you try, movie, Hugh Jackman - even almost always wearing black - will never be Justin Theroux in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.) You keep waiting for new information that makes us care about the hole in Jackman's heart but you get faux coolness instead. (The shirtlessness in one scene helped but it wasn't a lot anyway.)

Ellen Barkin. Easy to forget based on this performance that she's one of the most underrated actresses of her time. For being a commanding figure in her own staff room, she seems utterly toasted. She doesn't get to do anything with either Jackman or Kinnear, or she knows how shit the project is (though her role in it could have easily been a prototypical Miranda Priestly or a millennial Rose Lindsey), so she's holding back. It's telling when it's clear she felt Man Trouble was more worthy of her A-material.

Ashley Judd. Let's just be honest, here: she eats Oreos, does high school cheers for unavailable men in her panties while she's 75 seconds at a New Year's Party away from erupting into a blubbering mess, isn't allowed to be right about any of the things she yells at Jackman because Some Woman Done Him Wrong, and she never sees herself as above a cow. She has a confessional breakdown-on-Live-TV scene and everything that comes out of her mouth is gibberish but she says her problem was comparing men to animals.

Um... she did the exact same thing to all women. Especially herself. Her boilerplate sociology, the backbone of any point this movie was supposed to have, is inevitably portrayed as nonsense that leads people to confusion. Because Jackman just couldn't find the right woman. Yet. Because she couldn't imagine after meeting Jackman that Kinnear could be a dog. Because of Mel Gibson in that one movie.

Oh: and Ashley Judd's sister and brother-in-law are not characters in this film. Out of the blue, and 3 minutes of screentime total in 97 minutes, her sister who is receiving fertility injections to get pregnant has a miscarriage. Cut to: sisters are in bed together crying... I'm sorry, but I must reiterate: who is this woman? 3 minutes screentime in 97 do not constitute a character who gets to have a hospital scene. And you'd better believe that 2 out of the 3 were spent fighting with the husband. You know why. So the husband could be Mr. Perfect and get Judd to realize that maybe men are not Cows or Oreos or Tape Recorders or Cowboys.


(I held that in for as long as I could.)