December 18, 2010
Review - " How Do You Know " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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How Do You Know
Directed by: James L. Brooks.
Starring: Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Jack
“How Do You Know” is one oddball romantic comedy.
It looks as gleaming and pretty as a regular rom-com, and it wraps
up just as you might expect. But before it gets there, there’s a lot of
fumbling conversation, romantic miscalculations, awkward pauses
and even some dead silence. There are some slow spots and some
plot detours that might have been best avoided.
“How Do You Know” isn’t going to end up anywhere near the top.
Yet its relaxed rhythms, its occasional sharp observations and a
charming romantic triangle make it a more than passable night out
if you’re fed up with the usual rom-com conventions.
The three leads do fine work. Reese Witherspoon is Lisa, a softball
whiz who’s lost her spot on the national team after turning 31. Her
character is more mixed-up than most in this type of movie, which is
something she’s quite aware of — and not at all happy about.
And she knows it’s foolish, but she finds herself drawn to a pro
baseball pitcher (Owen Wilson), despite his somewhat lax attitude
toward monogamy (for his frequent overnight guests, he has a
variety of toothbrushes and sweatshirts of varying sizes). Yet in his
own way, the baseball player is trying to be a good guy, and Wilson
makes it hard not to like him — he’s not the usual romantic heel of
He’s clearly not as suitable, though, as George, a nice-guy businessman under federal investigation who keeps popping up
in her life. As George, Paul Rudd, who’s quite funny, is lovestruck and eager, like a puppy in a very nice business suit. So he’
s more than happy to listen as she unloads her problems on him.
Jack Nicholson, a frequent
star in Brooks’ movies,
occasionally lurches into the
foreground as Rudd’s father.
He’s a corporate bad guy
whose problems aren't
anywhere near as interesting
as those of the three leads.
“How Do You Know” is
genuinely likeable comedy that’
s a bit uneven (especially
Nicholson’s character). The
characters have a second and
even third dimension in the
case of Rudd’s George. And
the movie isn’t afraid to
indulge in a completely
unnecessary scene as long as
it further fleshes out the
Witherspoon’s hair wasn’t always perfect; that Paul Rudd didn’t always know the right thing to say; Owen Wilson, again
working his magic by turning a completely unlikeable character to a charming rogue and that Jack Nicholson was…well…the
same snide, mischievous character he always plays so well.
These characters and their imperfections…these are the things that make them memorable.
Each character in this movie, at some point, gets a “life sucks” hand dealt to them, and seeing how each of them copes with it
…that’s a big part of what
makes this movie worth your
It was funny, but not as
much as you'd expect. I think
if you go to this movie
knowing it's more of a
romantic comedy than a
typical Owen Wilson/Paul
Rudd style comedy then
you'll be pleasantly
So, is this an original and
ground-breaking film? No. Is
it an enjoyable romantic
comedy with good
and funny scenes? Yes!