I once again owe my loyal readers an apology. I went dark for the month of October, and if this blog was a Twitch stream then my internet career would be dead, dead, dead. I could say that I took October off to allow readers to catch up with the blog, but that’s not true. I was traveling internationally for the first half of the month, and then watching The Haunting of Hill House. I’m very sorry, but am excited to be back!
In my previous post, I advertised You’ve Got Mail as the next Greg Kinnear (GK) film under review and for this I also apologize. I’m going to table that review, and here dive into Someone Like You. Why the change? First, SLY has a stacked cast featuring Ashley Judd, Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, and Hugh Jackman. We recently watched Greatest Showman, and I was in the mood for Hugh. Second, I love reviewing GK’s bad movies and SLY is bad, bad, bad. Here is the trailer, if you would like to watch it before jumping into this review. I’ll cover the good, the plot, the bad, and the Greg of SLY.
Someone Like You! (The Good)
Directed by Tony Goldwyn and released in 2001, SLY is the textbook case of a movie that tried to do too much and mostly failed. But here are some positive notes.
- Ashley Judd deserves your respect. She’s a Harvey Weinstein victim, but so much more. She’s had an excellent career starring in thrillers, dramas, rom coms, and everything else. My wife says she’s excellent in Where the Heart Is. Judd is a social justice advocate, acrobatic yoga enthusiast, and has an Instagram worth following.
- Hugh Jackman’s breakout year was 2001. Fresh off the first X-Men movie, Hugh starred in SLY, Swordfish, and Kate & Leopold. At one point in SLY, Judd misses Kinnear’s abs. I wanted to shout through the screen, “Your roommate is Wolverine and he walks around shirtless!” Here’s a visual aid:
- Marisa Tomei is excellent as Judd’s bestie in SLY. Tomei has an on-point New York accent, supports Judd through many sad spells, and is the saving grace of the movie.
- Rolfe Kent scored the movie, and would later compose the theme song for Dexter. One of the most iconic themes ever, I bet it’s now in your head!
Someone Like You… (The Plot)
Ashley Judd is a production assistant for the Diane Roberts daytime talk show (think Opera or Ellen). As a hobby, Judd studies mammalian mating habits and forms theories to apply to human relationships. Her leading theory is the “old cow theory”: men are polygamous by nature (like bulls) and move on to new partners (new cows) when they tire of their current partner (old cow). Judd’s character is named Jane Goodale, just so you know she’s obsessed with mammals.
Then Judd starts dating Greg Kinnear, the talk show’s producer. GK is a romantic, and Judd is smitten by his charm. Their relationship progresses rapidly over six weeks; they both say “I love you,” GK ends his three-year relationship with another woman, and they plan to move in together. As they’re about to sign the lease, GK ends the relationship.
Having forfeited her apartment, Judd moves in with coworker Hugh Jackman. Hugh’s longtime girlfriend recently dumped him, and he’s turned to casual sex with girls he meets in the bar downstairs to fill the void. Judd befriends Hugh over drinks at the bar, cold Chinese takeout at midnight, and other convos. But she’s still upset about being jilted by GK and repulsed by Hugh’s behavior, so she publishes an article on her “old cow” theory under a pseudonym. The article becomes a national sensation, with every talk show searching for its author.
Three months later, GK asks Judd out again and she accepts–against the advice of bestie Tomei and any reasonable human. GK stands her up, and Judd soon finds out why. GK rekindled his relationship with his previous girlfriend (aka the one he broke up with for Judd). AND…this girl is the talk show host! Judd erupts in anger at a work meeting, realizes her theory is voided by GK returning to an “old cow,” and is later comforted by Hugh who tells her she’s beautiful while she’s sobbing. Weirdly, Hugh also tells Judd the problem might not be men’s natures but Judd’s nature. She sees the goodness in Hugh, and in her sister’s husband as the pair experiences a miscarriage. With this evidence in hand, Judd identifies herself as author while discrediting her old cow article on the talk show. Off-air, she professes feelings for Hugh and the two sloppily kiss. End movie.
Someone Like You? (The Bad)
Since I had four positives, I’ll keep this list to four negatives.
- Bad Plot Development. If that ending seemed inconsistent with the rest of the movie, it’s because it was. The movie starts with a feminist, pro-woman narrative that is flipped by the end. Judd must adjust her expectations of men, but GK gets off scot-free and his girlfriend (the talk show host) never finds out how he jilted Judd.
- Overly Ambitious. The movie had multiple scenes of scientists studying cows with voiceover by Judd to explain the old cow theory. SLY also had on-screen title cards to sub-divide sections, and cutaway definitions of “joy”, “rapture,” and “ecstasy” while Judd & GK get it on. These choices felt like stylish flourishes of a rom com doubling as an indie movie but executed unnaturally.
- Bad Chemistry. I’m somewhat oblivious to bad chemistry on-screen, but you can’t miss it here. Neither GK nor Hugh establish good chemistry with Judd. No sparks fly, and the kissing is terrible. Judd & GK look like middle-schoolers “establishing intimacy” (you can watch here), while there’s no zing in Judd & Hugh’s final kisses.
- Asking Too Much of Judd. Judd cries A LOT in SLY. She sobs after GK jilts her both times. She sobs after finding out who GK’s girlfriend is. She cries with her sister over her miscarriage. Etc. This is fine, because Judd is an excellent crier. But the scenes that try to over-extend her range, such as drunk Judd and cheerleader Judd, are very cringe-worthy.
Someone Like Greg
Now for our perennial question, how was Greg’s performance? In a word, uninspired. It felt like Greg mailed it in, which is disappointing considering this movie followed shortly after one of his finest performances in Nurse Betty. Greg still flashed his typical mastery of smirks, smiles, and other facial expressions. His wardrobe was stylish, including the suit at the beginning of the trailer, a classy blue shirt hand-picked by Judd, and some shirtless scenes. And he had his moments, such as reading women’s beauty magazine Allure while Judd attended to herself in the restroom.
Greg’s best scene followed his breakup with Judd. At work the next day, Greg tries to talk about the break up while Judd shirks him off and asks Hugh if she can be his roommate. Greg’s pitch-perfect in the background, repeatedly asking “You want to move in with HIM?!” with an air of unjustified jealousy customary to men who want to have their cake and eat it too.
But a large part of Greg’s mostly forgettable performance centered on the character itself, which was a flattened version of his excellent character in Sabrina. In Sabrina, Greg is “a playboy who goes through women like they’re socks.” Recognizing this as a very unlovable archetype, Greg adopted a level of confusion and naïveté that added to his charm to make a lovable, redeemable character. In SLY, we get a charming playboy without anything else. We never learn why Greg breaks up with Judd or anything else about his character. We never see his apartment, and you should never trust a guy who won’t show you his digs. (There’s also no depth to Hugh’s character; in an absolutely pointless scene we meet his ex-girlfriend only to never learn why they broke up). SLY is definitely Judd’s movie but as her range was over-extended, the male characters became forgettable stereotypes subservient to the plot.
- Someone Like You had crazy potential with its loaded cast: baby-faced Hugh Jackman in his breakout year, Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, and Marisa Tomei. All of these actors are also great people irl, which is rare in Hollywood these days.
- But it wasn’t good. The movie’s focus shifted 180 from how men’s habits hurt women to how women should change for decent/good men. A sloppy script, weird artistic choices, and bad chemistry compounded the movie’s problems.
- Greg’s silly smirks, stylish shirts, and juvenile jealousy couldn’t save a very 1D character. There’s still the horror of Salvation Boulevard, so this performance isn’t the lowest we’ve hit on the Kinnear Meter.
- Next up: You’ve Got Mail (for real, I promise!).
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