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Movie Review

Animal Attraction

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Directed by Tony Goldwyn, starring Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman and Greg Kinnear.

If there's one thing you can safely say about Ashley Judd's onscreen lovelife it's that she hasn't had the best of luck with men: used in 'Ruby In Paradise', deserted in 'Heat', framed in 'Double Jeopardy' and now dumped in 'Animal Attraction'.

She plays Jane Goodale, a TV exec who has all but given up hope of sharing the other side of the bed with anyone special. Then along comes Ray (Kinnear), her new boss who talks the talk, walks the walk and has Jane making repeated trips down the office corridor in the hope of running into him.

Before you can say this never happens in real life - or at least in mine - they're dating, sharing ice creams and talking about getting a place. Jane's even managed to square away in her own mind that Greg is dating someone for five years but finds it a little harder to take the constant jibes of cynical co-worker and office lothario Eddie (Jackman) about the relationship.

Greg is adamant that he's going to finish with his girlfriend very soon and find a pad with Jane, but of course when the day of the big move comes she's the one left crying. Now Jane's loveless, homeless and with only one hope of shelter - Eddie's spare room.

Derided by critics upon its US release, 'Animal Attraction' is nothing that you haven't wept or winced through during primetime TV (it's even split into episodes so you'll feel right at home) but is saved from the truly awful thanks to the performances of Judd and Jackman. The scenes which the duo share suggest that Parks should have ditched Kinnear from the outset and concentrated solely on the chemistry between the two J's.

Once ensconced in Eddie's bachelor pad Jane reinvents herself as a pop psychologist, ghost writing a column for a glossy magazine where theories about men being bulls and women being cows find a receptive audience with people who only threw out their last stash of self help books a couple of days before.

Eddie meanwhile is oblivious to Jane's nocturnal writings but is also a far more complex character than his bedroom Olympian status suggests. Turns out Eddie's been dumped too and Parks creates some memorable, heartfelt drama as Eddie and his flatmate share smokes, Scotch and generally wonder if they're going to ever find someone special. Of course Jane comes to realise that the last man she wants is the one she really needs and that writing columns on life is no substitute for living it.

The real letdown is that she comes to this conclusion a little too quick for the buildup that went before it - the ending is too sudden and there needs to be another 15 cliffhanging minutes to find out whether Eddie will ditch his attempts to work his way through the Manhattan phone directory and settle down. Still, it's nice to see Judd with something to smile about.

Harry Guerin

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