Someone Like You Review | Someone Like You Can Do Better

by Andrew Parker

Someone Like You is a silly, unknowingly creepy, and wholly earnest Christian romance made for people who find Pumpkin Spice Lattes too spicy and Hallmark movies too secular. It’s a film that’s trying desperately to be wholesome, inspirational, and hopeful, but to anyone paying attention, it’s bizarrely horny and pretty messed up. That’s nothing new in the realm of romantic dramas, but with a limited budget at its disposal, a resolute adherence to formula, and a sense of religious piety, Someone Like You is equal parts tough to swallow and unintentionally hilarious when it should be stirring the heartstrings.

Someone Like You is the first production from prolific romance and Christian novelist Karen Kingsbury’s homegrown production company, and it’s a project clearly made with eyes towards the future. (Some of her other material has been previously adapted, almost exclusively for television, where it feels like this would find a better home.) It’s actually part of one of her many ongoing series about different families wrestling with love, faith, and all of life’s ups and downs. One doesn’t need to know Kingsbury’s source material to watch Someone Like You, but it’s abundantly clear that the barrier for entry here is being a fan of the author. 

Dawson Gage (Jake Allyn) is a well-to-do architect from Birmingham, Alabama who has finally gotten up the courage to ask his lifelong female best friend and surrogate sister figure, London Quinn (Sarah Fisher), to take their relationship to the next level. There’s a tossed off bit in here about Dawson losing his parents at a young age, and London’s folks – Louise (Lynn Collins) and Larry (Scott Reeves) – taking him in as their own, making this feel more than a little incestuous, but don’t worry, that’s hardly ever brought up again. Mostly because London dies in a freak accident that’s meant to be tragic, but looks and is written as bafflingly and conveniently as possible. This isn’t just devastating to Dawson, but also to Louise, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant, and her daughter was a perfect match. 

But not all hope is lost. As it just so happens, London was conceived via IVF, or as a lot of people like to groan in this movie, she was “born in a lab.” Through some convoluted, half-assed explanation about property law (I wish I was joking about that), London was actually a twin, and the other embryo was gifted to a different family. Andi Allen (also Fisher, although a brunette instead of a blonde) has been living a happy life as a junior level zookeeper in Nashville, and is about to get engaged, much to the delight of her doctor parents. Dawson tracks down (read: stalks) Andi in Nashville, ostensibly to help Louise, but probably just as much for his own heartbroken reasons. Andi reluctantly agrees to go to Birmingham to learn about the sister and family she never knew she kinda-sorta-had.

If you see nothing at all wrong about the plot of Someone Like You, then congratulations. You are the target demo, provided that you also like a movie that espouses keeping faith in family and the lord. If you think this plot line sounds like something more at home in a dark comedy or twisted soap opera, you might still get something out of Someone Like You, but certainly not what the filmmakers were hoping you would take away from it. Alongside co-writer and director Tyler Russell, producer and author Kingsbury’s first major swing at being a player in the pictures is saddled with an unbearably corny, tone deaf script and no sense of logic or pacing whatsoever.

Someone Like You is trying very hard to seem like a down home sort of low key story, but these characters and their world of perfectly kept houses, successful businesses, and finely designed estates is anything but that. It’s not a picture of everyday people, but rather prosperous characters in an elaborate soap opera that just so happen to be super Christian. If they weren’t going through trying times, there would be nothing interesting about these people in the slightest. The characters are all financially comfortable, well dressed, white, highly educated, and virtually flawless to a point of being unconvincing. It’s admirable that Kingsbury and Russell aren’t trying to villainize any of these characters and that the situation at hand isn’t more manipulative than it already has to be, but there’s no reflection of the casual audience they are trying to bring into the theatre. If the film is preaching, it’s preaching to an already established choir, while seeming almost inaccessible to anyone outside of this particular tax bracket or Kingsbury’s fan base. It only serves to reaffirm what they already know and experience, rendering the film itself a moot point. (This makes the now requisite Christian movie play of including a credits sequence urging viewers to buy tickets to give away to friends, family, and strangers for free to boost numbers and spread the word even richer and hollower.)

Some of the film’s earnestness and tragedy comes quite naturally, and Allyn and Fisher are charming when they gaze deeply into each other’s bright blue eyes. Outside the page and screen, diabetes and adoption are two topics close to Kingsbury’s own heart, so their inclusion as major plot points here is understandable. That doesn’t make the clunky dialogue, forced romantic pandering, or stock dramatic situations any easier to take seriously. Russell frames Someone Like You almost exactly as if this were a piece of lifestyle porn (which is pretty much the in house style of every Hallmark movie ever made). There is an obscene number of montages that revolve around Dawson jetskiiing (at one point even sadly fondling his keys shortly after London’s death). The cinematographer hasn’t met a single bit of foliage that they didn’t like. Every home is so blandly adorned the viewer could be excused for thinking they wandered into a Pottery Barn instead of a movie theatre. In terms of execution, Someone Like You is banal past the point of self-parody. Once the jaw dropping wrongness of the plot wears off, the second half of Someone Like You settles into a less jarring groove, but certainly not a better one.

When that level of dramatic and aesthetic bankruptcy is coupled with the journey of a hero who come across less like a love-lorn man of deep faith and more like a stalker, it’s a recipe for a snicker worthy disaster. The sentimentality (and emotional manipulation) are heartfelt, but the story, scenes, characters, plot points, dialogue, and musings about faith throughout are wholly inauthentic and cheap. Someone Like You is aimed squarely at people who want a romantic, lighthearted escape, but they don’t know they can do much better than this.

Someone Like You is now playing in select cinemas.

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