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Movie Review: ‘How Do You Know’

December 17, 2010

It is hard to believe that James Brooks, the man who brought us the modern day classics Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News, thought that this meandering mess of a movie would appeal to the masses. Even more puzzling is the staggering price tag of $120M, which Sony managed to whittle down to a mere $100M.  That’s not big money for an action drama, but it is big money indeed for a romantic comedy.

Reese Witherspoon plays professional softball player Lisa, who is perky and popular, but has just lost her job due to her advanced age of thirty. She is dating Matty (Owen Wilson), a dimwitted professional baseball player who never shies away from the perks of the profession.

Paul Rudd plays George, the guy next door whose world is imploding around him due to a federal investigation into his dealings at his father’s (Jack Nicholson) business. Lisa finds herself caught between the rich, successful Matty, and George, who has downsized to a crappy apartment and seems destined for the big house.

The performances are certainly pleasant.  Witherspoon has grown into a beautiful young woman, and she is just adorable throughout the whole movie. Rudd plays within his comfort zone, being the guy who is slightly out of his element, but is so charming and sincere that the ladies eventually come around to him. Wilson steals every scene he is in as the clueless ladykiller.  He has stacks of track suits for his lady visitors, as well as a drawer full of toothbrushes and other toiletries. He’s obnoxious yet sincere, and his complete lack of awareness provides for some laughs.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only laughs you’ll find in the movie.  For a movie with so much talent, it just isn’t that much fun.  It’s overlong, not very funny, and not particularly romantic.  It’s also a mess of a screenplay.  The story meanders about, lacking any zip at all.  The whole “business investigation” slant is really badly conceived.  Every time George and his father talk about it, they talk in circles and vague phrases.  At the end of the movie, I still didn’t know what he was being investigated for.  Consequently, every scene that took part in the office with George and his Father  took me entirely out of the movie.

In fact, I think the movie would have been better without those scenes entirely, after all, Nicholson doesn’t act all that thrilled to be there. By the time I got to the end of the movie, I understood why.  Maybe that sour expression Nicholson has plastered on his face is because he knew all along what a stinker the film would turn out to be.

With so many excellent movies out in theaters now, it’s best to spend your dollars elsewhere.

Rating 1/5


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