Friday, 21 April 2017

Retro Review: Someone Like You (2001)

Someone Like You
Cast: Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman, Marisa Tomei, Ellen Barkin
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $38 million

Plot: After being jilted by her boyfriend, a talkshow talent scout writes a column on the relationship habits of men which gains her national fame

'Someone Like You Shouldn't Waste One Hour, Thirty-Five Mins On This Rom-Bomb' 

A romantic comedy that was overlooked by many on general release during the early 2000s, Someone Like You (released in the UK as Animal Attraction) is extremely weak, flaccid and sterile with an awful screenplay, based on a novel 'Animal Husbandry'.

This romantic comedy looks at what happens when the girl falls for the guy that got away and later on realises the one she never saw coming, is the ideal man for her in the end. 

Spearheaded by Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman and Greg Kinnear, the film's biggest problem is that arguably none of the actors, well but for perhaps Kinnear, possess the traits to carry it off as the protagonist looking for love and the easily appealing love interest that earns their affection. Ashley Judd lacks charm and believability; she just can't compare to Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts, whatsoever in this sub-genre. As much as she tries, Judd seems to be miscast as the neurotic Jane, and yet she is incapable of conveying vulnerability as her character: a trait that those above actresses maintain. Although in all honesty, I'd rather that these actresses chose not to play such as dis-likeable character, or better still rewrite all of the main characters and make them likeable.    

Whereas as great as he is as Wolverine in X-Men and musical, Oklahoma, Hugh Jackman just doesn't really have the romantic chops. Greg Kinnear, on the other hand, fared a tad better than the other three of Jackman, Judd and Marisa Tomei and I could definitely have envisaged him in a better-written rom-com than this effort.

The first 10 mins were odd but after that 20 mins into it, I just couldn't get into at all and gave up after that. Suffice to say, I didn't manage to see it through to the end, as it was so utterly dreary and became so unwatchable. 

For any romantic comedy to work as well as it should, or any film with a romantic plotline or subplot is three things: the meet-cute scenario where they first meet up and how it happens, some obstacle or issue is getting in the way of the two would be lovers coming together and in the end, the coming together of the pairing when they realise or one of them realises that s/he is indeed better for them, rather than that other person they are seeing/dating or whatever. And I generally don't like romantic comedies, as I have stated many times over. 

The would-be couple also needs that chemistry or unresolved sexual tension that drives the story forward and makes advancements in their coming together as a couple.... this film fails on all these accounts. The love triangle subplot also fails as both the male characters come across as being dislikeable (Kinnear's character starts off sweet only to become a jerk, Jackman's character is a jerk, who despite making inroads, is still a weasel in many respects). 

Ashley Judd's character is the girl-next-door, Julia Roberts character- type who falls in love with a nice guy, yet somewhat plain co-worker played by Greg Kinnear, an executive producer (the pairing were formerly an item and in a relationship with each other), but it doesn't last long, he gets cold feet and she later falls for Lothario played by Hugh Jackman, who turns out that he isn't as bad as he seems. 

There is not a lot that is interesting that occurs during the film; the script doesn't give the three main leads much to do and the set-up, like with millions of other romantic comedies, is so utterly apparent and obvious. The difference here is that it is executed with less charm, efficiency and in a way in wanting me to not care for either of the characters. The romantic tension is not there, whatsoever and the story flip-flops its way without a care in the world. I just didn't feel it. The characters despite their flaws and inadequacies come off as one-note, pedestrian -yet also unsympathetic, shallow, dislikeable and are detachable, culminating towards an unsatisfying conclusion. We don't even learn why Kinnear's character does a 180 and chooses to dispose of Jane, like a scrunched up piece of paper in the garbage bin. The whole film is indeed a mess, bland, with a mundane direction that is so conventional-yet so formulaic. 

Also, this film tries to be a smart romantic comedy, - and it does so in vain and in abject failure. 

Final Verdict:

Flimsy direction, unfunny, bland and unhumourous in the comedy aspect, with a better script and actors who could easily pull it off (i.e Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan or Reese Witherspoon in place of Ashley Judd), Someone Like You would stand a chance of being a decent rom-com. 

Yet decent, this isn't. In fact, it's so awful, I couldn't see it through to the end. The film alternates between dull and awful and it was a hard watch. 

And coupled with poorly written characters, this is a totally unremarkable and forgettable rom-com and though rom-coms are not a favourite genre for many film fans, its movies such as Someone Like You that demonstrate why that is the case. And myself included. 

This so-called rom-com is really a rom-bomb of epic proportions.  


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