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How Do You Know

A movie staring Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson

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How do you know you're watching a bad movie?

  • Dec 17, 2010
Written and Directed by James L. Brooks
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson
Psychiatrist: Figure out what you want and how to ask for it:
Lisa: Those are both really hard.
Silly me.  I assumed that HOW DO YOU KNOW, the new film by Academy Award winning director, James L. Brooks, was asking an age old question about how you know when you’re actually in love.  I did not realize that what it could also be asking is how do you know when you’re watching a bad movie.  For me, I knew when I was about half way through this muddled mess of a romantic comedy and still had no idea what the story actually was.  Everything looked so pretty that I hadn’t noticed that Brooks had yet to make any effort to answer the question himself.
Reese Witherspoon returns to the big screen for the first time in two years in what certainly must have looked like a good project on paper.  Everyone wants to know how you know you’re in love, including her character, Lisa, an Olympic softball player whose career has just stalled and whose interest in finding love seems to have stalled long before that.  She is going through the motions with her casual boyfriend, Matty (Owen Wilson) but the clueless twosome actually think they are breaking new relationship ground every time he makes some space for her in his sock drawer.  Meanwhile, Paul Rudd’s George is going through a crisis of his own but he knows without a doubt that Lisa is the girl for him.  Naturally, we know as well too so we just have to sit around and wait for Lisa to get on the same page as everyone else.
If George can figure the whole love thing out, it stands to reason that anyone can, but Lisa and Matty exist on this plain where apparently love is a convoluted concept, that is as hard to understand as Jack Nicholson’s decision to appear in this farce.  Love needn’t be so complicated but at least one thing is clear in this film – Brooks doesn’t know how you know anymore than anyone else does.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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How do you know you're watching a bad movie? How do you know you're watching a bad movie? How do you know you're watching a bad movie? How do you know you're watching a bad movie?

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December 30, 2010
I wanted to see this one too, but, maybe I'll just until it's on cable. Thanks for saving me some money and time!
December 31, 2010
I'm glad I could help. This one is a big old mess.
December 31, 2010
LOL...sounds like it and what a shame because it is a good idea for a story and a question that everyone asks themselves.
December 17, 2010
Thanks for your quick review of this flick.  I have the day off today and was considering going to see this one.  You have convinced me that there are much better ways to spend my time and money! 
December 17, 2010
Thank you. I'm glad I could help put your money to better use!
More How Do You Know reviews
review by . March 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Loss of Sensibility
How Do You Know? Well, you don’t! No one does until it’s out there in the open and had undergone “stress” test. "Big stars, big budgets" does not necessary equate success nor does it guarantees mega box office. In fact, this turns out to be one of the biggest flops in the movie industry!       Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson + Owen Wilson = US$37 million paycheck. Add Paul Rudd into the equation that translates to a whopping US$40 million! …
review by . May 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*1/2 out of ****     There's very little harm, and very little charm, to James L Brook's "How Do You Know". It's a comedy that doesn't offend, it's not too crude, and it's not stupid. Great, that's wonderful. But it also doubles as a drama; one that does not work, does not involve the audience, or so much as stimulate one's intellect. This film wasn't an insult to my intelligence, but it expects the audience to WANT to be played like a deck of cards. This film also plays like …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #25
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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About this movie


Feeling a bit past her prime at 27, former athlete Lisa Jorgenson finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with Lisa's current, baseball-playing beau.
How Do You Know is an upcoming romantic comedy film directed, written and produced by James L. Brooks. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson. The movie was shot in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.. It is scheduled to be released on December 17, 2010.
A romantic comedy centered on the love triangle between professional softball player Lisa Jorgenson (Reese Witherspoon), a corporate executive, and a major-league pitcher.
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Director: James L. Brookes
Genre: Romance
Release Date: Dec. 17, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: James L. Brooks
Studio: Columbia Pictures
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