Ashley Judd
Greg Kinnear
Hugh Jackman
Marisa Tomei
Ellen Barkin
Catherine Dent
Peter Friedman
Laura Regan

Tony Goldwyn

"Never underestimate casual sex Jane, it can be very liberating."
Time: 97 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Official Website
Genre: Romantic Comedy
The minute a novel generates any sort of buzz, Hollywood snaps up the rights hoping of easily turning that popularity into a hit film. Never mind, that good books don't usually make good movies. It's hard to recreate complex characters and emotions from one medium to the other. Paper characters are easier to forgive than celluloid ones because you get inside their head and are able to understand why they do the things they do. In film, actions take the place of words, which aren't always enough to convey the spirit and tone of a novel. Those familiar with the book on which this film is based – ANIMAL HUSBANDRY – will assuredly be disappointed in the translation. The intense, angry, and energetic treatise on the dating patterns of men is watered down into a mediocre love story that never quite convinces us to believe the outcome.

Judd tries to give an impassioned performance of a woman who turns to animal nature to try to understand why she's alone again. However, she's not given much to do except pout and complain. What we see of her relationship with the so-called love of her life, played by the smarmy Kinnear, is less than inspiring. When he dumps her after 6 weeks of dating we're supposed to feel her devastation. Forgive me, but I just couldn't but anyone wanting Greg Kinnear that much. What we see of their relationship is nothing special: some wild sex, apartment hunting and shopping. Except for the sex, all things that could be done with anyone else. What makes her anger and depression all the more untenable is the fact that she brought it on herself. He was dating someone else while they were starting their romance. As all woman with a brain know, in the end he's never going to leave his current girlfriend. So, not only is Judd's character grossly naive, she's a cheater as well. How can we be expected to like and respect such a person?

Clearly, the film makers had the same question which is why I believe they cast Judd in the first place. She has an innate likability and intelligence that shines through these horribly stupid decisions. In the novel her anger turns into a crusade to uncover the psyche of men. After reading an article about bulls only mating once with any given cow, she begins to develop a theory about why men move from one woman to the next. It consumes her every waking thought, giving her life a new purpose while hiding the true reason she's still single. She uses her roommate and co-worker Eddie (Jackman), a highly promiscuous single man as her alpha male. They actually get along well enough, though he thinks she's a little nuts when it comes to her ideas about men. Not all guys are worms like Ray. Moreover, just because he sleeps around doesn't mean he's unable to commit to one woman.

The main problem with the film version of events is that it's merely used as a plot ploy to make the story different from every other romantic comedy. It's more hobby than obsession, which takes away the main thrust of her argument. Her theory is certainly too convoluted and complex to go into onscreen, but they could have shown how it took over her life without really going into the concept. As it stands, she just seems angry at the world for no real reason. Tired of hearing her complain, her best friend (played by Tomei) convinces her to publish her New Cow theory in the men's magazine Tomei works for. It's an instant sensation, causing everyone to try and book the scientist they made up to hide Jane's identity. However, instead of feeling vindicated, Jane feels nothing at all. Mainly, because, as she learns, the problem is within herself and not the fault of the male animal. This would probably be a touching revelation if the audience were let in on it.

We're supposed to believe she completely turned 180 degrees in her thinking after experiencing one touching moment between her sister and brother-in-law? Huh? That's as fast as it happens. Gee, all men aren't evil and suddenly Eddie appears to be the knight who's going to rescue her from her loveless existence. I can't blame her for choosing Jackman over Kinnear, but I need a better reason than a good body and one night's worth of wisdom. Jackman was clearly hired for his looks and isn't really given much to do. We get moments of honesty and decency from his portrayal, however, Eddie's main job is too be gorgeous. In that respect, Jackman more than fits the bill. I'm sure he's a better actor than this, unfortunately he seems content to play the latest Hollywood Prince Charming. We'll see what his true colors turn out to be over the next few years.

Judd is also a current Hollywood darling, but she's yet to find a role that will launch her onto the A-List. She's lapsed into comfortable roles that utilize her charm and looks, but not much else. This role might have looked better on paper, especially if one read the novel, but in the end it's the same quirky, cute, career girl part anyone and everyone has played over the last few years. It's sad to see another clever novel reduced to mediocrity by Hollywood. Any author considering selling their story should watch this film. Why they bother to use a book they have no intention of fully interpreting is beyond me. They certainly could have come up with this story without it. If you're a big fan of Judd's or want to see Jackman with his shirt off, this is the film for you. Otherwise, there's not much to get excited about here.