Mar. 28, 2001 (UPI) -- Ashley Judd's pleasant new romantic comedy "Someone Like You" may have the most forgettable title in movie history. The invaluable Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) lists 136 other flicks that begin with "Someone," "Something," or "Some." Feeling like the amnesiac hero of the new thriller "Memento," I took the movie's ad with me to the multiplex to help me remember its name (which is borrowed from an obscure Van Morrison song). Yet, I still ended up mumbling, "I want to see 'Someone Like It Hot to Watch Over Me,' or, uh, something."
This confusion is unfortunate because, judging by the enthusiastic reaction of the preview audience, a lot of women would enjoy it, if they could remember what it's called. Men, however, will tend to find the film, while short and painless, to be as forgettable as its title.
Abraham Lincoln summed up Ashley Judd's performance perfectly when he said: That's the kind of thing you'll like if you like that kind of thing. In return for your box office dollar, the perky Judd definitely delivers one whopping load of acting. She shows off every facial expression imaginable, with the possible exception of seasickness. Her performance is like that of a non-pathological Callista Flockhart.
Best known for being the sister of country singer Wynona Judd, starring in "Double Jeopardy," and wearing an embarrassingly short dress to the 1998 Oscars, Ashley Judd is soon to turn 33. She seems to be maturing from sex kitten into the kind of actress that appeals far more strongly to women than to men.
That's a smart career move. You can become a big star in your twenties by driving the opposite sex wild, but you can't stay one in your thirties without getting your own sex to identify with you.
The weird thing about the unmemorable name "Someone Like You" is that the movie is based on a recent novel with a far more distinctive and explanatory title, "Animal Husbandry." Judd portrays a
single woman who is devastated by being dumped by a potential husband (played by Greg Kinnear). So, she turns to sociobiological studies of the mating habits of cattle to develop a better understanding of the human male animal. (This sounds frightfully highbrow, but, trust me, it's not.) New York
After reading a science article about how bulls don't want to mate with the same cow twice, our spunky heroine develops her Old Cow-New Cow theory. This postulates that Kinnear discarded her because she had become his Old Cow and he was driven by biological urges to search for a New Cow. She writes an article outlining her theory, which the movie treats as if it were the most original idea since
. When published, it electrifies the women of Darwin . America
In reality, of course, the Old Cow theory is Old News. Biologists call the typical male beast's desire for variety in mating partners the "Coolidge Effect," after a legendary visit to a government research farm by President Calvin Coolidge and the First Lady. Taken on separate tours, Mrs. Coolidge supposedly asked the chicken coop keeper how many times a day the rooster would perform his amorous duties. Informed that the rooster rose to the occasion dozens of times daily, the First Lady said, "Please tell that to the President."
When Coolidge arrived, he was duly informed. In reply, he asked whether it was with the same hen each time.
"Oh no, Mr. President, a different one each time."
Nodding slowly, Coolidge said, "Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge."
Perhaps the producers of "Someone Like You" should have hired Silent Cal to freshen up the jokes in the script. The preview audience let out its biggest laugh when Judd's best friend Marisa Tomei tells her not to fret over Kinnear's betrayal because "Time wounds all heels." That venerable line probably slayed them during the Van Buren Administration.
When this film comes out on video, it might be fun to gather your friends and play a game in which you stop the tape at random places, and then see who can predict the next line. Expect high scores.
Certainly, nobody will fail to guess which man the brunette Judd ends up with. The blondish Kinnear doesn't stand a chance next to the raffishly dark-haired Hugh Jackman. In
Hollywoodmovies, the leading lady is seldom darker than her man. Notice how even Jennifer Lopez is getting blonder with each movie.
Jackman is an Australian actor best known for playing Wolverine in last summer's "X-Men." Here, he is Judd's lady-killer coworker who buys his condoms by the gross. Jackman puts on an American accent, but wisely lets a little of his highly masculine Australian accent slip through. That ploys works for Mel Gibson, and it works well for Jackman, too.
In the end, Judd rejects her own theory, on the grounds that "quadrupeds aren't bipeds." Yet, the sociobiologists may have the last laugh over the plot, since they argue that much of what we call the War Between the Sexes is really a War Within the Sexes. Kinnear's behavior turns out not to be driven by novelty after all. He merely left Judd and returned to his old girlfriend, played by Ellen Barkin. But that revelation makes Judd dislike him even more, since it shows Kinnear preferred another woman to her.
At the fade out, Judd falls into the manly arms of Jackman, who really has been living out the New Cow lifestyle. Yet, his years of promiscuity make him all the more desirable to her, since snagging his love means she's triumphed over all the other women he dumped.
"Someone Like You" is rated PG-13 for moderately bad language, sexual themes, and one not very explicit love scene; no nudity or violence.