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How Do You Know

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

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Well...how do you?

  • May 14, 2011
*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 one too. It keeps flipping through situations and conversations, attempting to find one that beats the other. Is "How Do You Know" James L. Brook's card? Hardly.

How such a messy film as this happened to Brook, I shall never know. James L. Brook made some good films some time ago, but now, it would seem that he's slowed down for not melodrama, not generic humor, but a distinct lack of effort. It is not bad comedy- or bad drama- that makes "How Do You Know" such a failure; it is bad judgment, and a lack of anything particularly worthwhile. So how do you know that this movie is not worth seeing? The answer: you don't. You give it a skip.

Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is a passionate softball player; in her 30's, and known as a "female jock" to many. When she loses everything that she loves within the sport, including the chance to even play on her team, she resorts to romance so that she can get some kicks in her life. She begins to see Matty (Owen Wilson), who is a really self-centered and shallow guy who for some reason appeals to this half-decent female. However, the romance gets caught on some rocks, and begins to sink.

Enter George (Paul Rudd), a loser who has just been dumped, and is trying to piece together both his own being and his own life. His father (Jack Nicholson) is also making his life a living hell. He meets Lisa after calling her (Lisa's friend gave him the number), and after a very unsuccessful and particularly boring date, things don't seem like they're going to go anywhere. However, Lisa begins to like George the more she sees him. Soon, they are pursuing friendship in the form of hang-outs, which could lead to romance in the end. I won't really say.

I asked many, many questions while watching the film. Above others, I wondered why I was still watching the picture. It wasn't good, it wasn't involving, I didn't like these characters, and I wasn't really enjoying myself. Somewhere, I have some sympathy for this film's ability to not harm my intelligence or well-being, but I just wish I had felt more, or let alone, SOMETHING.

If people see this movie, it will be because of the cast. Casual movie watchers like these actors; and they probably don't possess the ability to look at the character before the actor. That's what matters, and that is why some actors have good days and bad days. The people here have had mostly bad days. They are charming, just not together. Reese Witherspoon isn't really spunky or energetic enough to catch my interest, while Wilson is just plain generic. Paul Rudd is just depressing, un-funny, and uninspired in his "loser" role, and Nicholson...well, what the hell happened?

I do not recommend you watch this film. It's boring, overlong, and tedious. Simply put, it's a mess, and a pretty darn big one. I've seen love-triangle films that work, love-triangle films that don't work, and then I've seen love-triangle films that just die along with their forgettable qualities. This is one of those "love-triangle films". It's forgettable because it doesn't try, and it's not entertaining because the story (and characters) aren't likable or charming enough. Perhaps the film bills itself as the wrong movie, because this is not a romantic-comedy/drama. This isn't funny. This isn't romantic. And it's not dramatic either. Least of all, the humor doesn't even seep through the cracks; and to the point where it's hard to tell when these people are attempting humor. But that's Hollywood cinema for you.

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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 . December 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
How do you know you're watching a bad movie?
HOW DO YOU KNOW   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 …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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