Director: James L. Brooks
Writer: James L. Brooks
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 121 minutes
Genre: Romantic Comedy
USA Release: 12/17/2010
On DVD (USA): 3/22/2011
In life sometimes we are dealt certain cards, how do we know if they are going to lead us in a good direction or a bad one, well sometimes you just got to trust that the outcome no matter how long it takes will lead to something worth it. And that is precisely what is going on in James L. Brooks’ new movie “How Do You Know”. But with this amazing director and a great cast does it hold up or just drop out. Let’s find out.
In “How Do You Know” there are essentially 3 stories going on, all shuffling back and forth. We begin with Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) a 31-year-old professional softball player who just got cut from the US Olympic team because she is too old, and now suddenly is forced to start all over. Unsure where to go with her life she starts dating pro baseball player Matty (Owen Wilson) who is self-centered and egotistical but knows how to have fun which is what she needs. Coincidently Lisa one day gets a call from George (Paul Rudd) who was suggested to call by one of Lisa’s friends, but he only called just to be polite and explain he was now in a more serious relationship. Not too long after his life becomes out of control when he becomes the target of a federal investigation, and subsequently loses his job and girlfriend. During this time Lisa has been having fun with Matty and decides that she will move in with him but it doesn’t help when he doesn’t show any compassion for what’s going on in her life. Later on George decides to take a chance and call Lisa to go out, only to find out she is dating someone, but to his surprise still says they can have dinner. But the dinner is far from perfect as both sides are upset and on the verge of a meltdown they decide to eat in complete silence, and that’s when George starts to relies that she is not your average girl, and from there he has a tiny bit of sunshine in his at the moment miserable life.
I really wanted to like this movie, I though it was a no brainer that this was going to be a great movie, with Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson and James L. Brooks, how could it possible fail? Well the first thing is that this movie is too long, I know there is supposed to be a lot going on, but there still wasn’t enough stuff to really fill the 2 hours, they could have sniped away here and there, like a bonsai tree and that would have made it a lot better. Romantic Comedies are strictly an hour and a half long. In the same sense of the time, with the way the story flowed it seem to take forever to get to the end result but as soon as it did get to the end I was like how could it be over already, I felt like I had just taken a road trip and before I reached my destination I turned around and went home. So with that it seemed to me maybe we spent too much time with the other stories and less time with what I feel was the main story between Lisa and George. I’m sorry to say that this is probably one of the weakest James L. Brooks movies, although I did like his directing. I don’t know why he let it take forever to build up, Brooks as a writer he comes up with great dialog and some really good scenes but again took way to long to get where it needed to go. Now as for the cast, I felt that Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd have impeccable chemistry, and that is something I noticed in their only other live-action movie together “Overnight Delivery” which in every meaning is truly underrated. My only complaint with the two of them together is that I didn’t get my fill of seeing them together in this film, I felt that they didn’t have a lot of scenes together. On separate levels they were also great Reese Witherspoon did great with what she had, and anyone who is a fan of hers knows this is by far not her best performance. Paul Rudd on the other hand I though was very genuine, delivering a lot of his lines not only with words but with very fitting quirky movements that just lifted the scene. Unfortunately Owen Wilson just seem to play the same kind of character he always plays, yes he is good at it, but some range please. The same to my dismay also goes to Jack Nicholson who seemed too over the top and had this weird distracting jerking movement that he seemed to use with every line he delivered. He seemed almost like a caricature of himself. But alas, one of my favorite characters was Annie (Kathryn Hahn) she was the very cool friend to George who helped him through his life. Kathryn Hahn is one of those underrated actresses out there along with the likes of Judy Greer. Regrettably one of Hahn’s first scenes was way too distracting, really funny but too distracting, within that scene she is having hormone problems but I actually thought she was going into labor. While Jack Nicholson continues to talk I was way to distracted to know what he was even saying because of the constant cut backs to Hahn. But one of the nicest and fullest scenes in the film was the hospital scene, everything that went on was just perfect.
To sum up, as a whole this movie just seemed to think time was an ally but it was instead a mortal enemy as this film seemed to slowly make its way to the end, with a short unsatisfying wrap up. Although it has some great scenes and amazing chemistry with Witherspoon and Rudd, I would recommend you check out their other work as this is maybe some of their weakest roles to date.