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How Do You Know (2010)



Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 147
Fresh: 47 | Rotten: 100

How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads -- and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks.


Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 26

How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads -- and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.5/5
User Ratings: 41,506

My Rating

Movie Info

Director James L. Brooks returns to the helm for this ensemble comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd, and Owen Wilson, which centers on the story of a passionate athlete who finds herself romantically torn between a narcissistic baseball star and a straight-laced businessman. As far back as Lisa (Witherspoon) can remember, her life has been defined by sports. Then, in the blink of an eye, she's cut from the team. With her identity in crisis as she attempts to regain her


Drama, Romance, Comedy

Mar 22, 2011


Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (149) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (100) | DVD (11)

Some of the bits are funny, every now and then they're sweet, the performances are OK and really, with this much talent involved, it's hard not to be disappointed in that.

August 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Comments (3)
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Contrived, mawkish and mirthless, this feels like it was made by people who haven't had any meaningful human contact for years.

January 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Everything looks primed for civilized amusement, but somewhere along the way the laughs dropped off, together with the question mark in the title.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comment (1)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brooks has given us the rare contemporary rom-com that's by turns (if intermittently) thoughtful and funny, and that doesn't feel focus-grouped, cynical, misogynist, or mean. It seems ungenerous not to cut such a generous movie a break.

December 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Slate | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

How do you know if a romantic comedy isn't working? Generally if it's neither especially romantic, nor particularly comic. And in this picture, no matter how many times he keeps coming up to bat, Brooks keeps striking out.

December 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Comment (1)
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

How Do You Know isn't Brooks' best. Witherspoon is too uneasy in her role. But thanks to Rudd, plus Kathryn Hahn as... George's loyal secretary and Nicholson as his father, it delivers a number of delights.

December 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Denver Post | Comment (1)
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I'm not sure the movie will end up earning back its stars' huge salaries, but you definitely can't argue they didn't earn them.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

It's not enough to merely swoon over Witherspoon. The movie's entirely too long and leaden to get by on that alone.

January 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

"How Do You Know" is a complete misfire from famed writer/director James L. Brooks.

September 22, 2012 Full Review Source:

What happened to James L. Brooks?

January 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer | Comment (1)
Cinema Writer

It's all a bit of a slog and, in the end, you don't know much more than you did at the start.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Digital Spy | Comment (1)
Digital Spy

What makes any of these kinds of movies run involves the appeal of the main actors, and all three, stalwart in their screen likabilities, smooth the proceedings.

May 3, 2011 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews | Comment (1)
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Not enough films let their characters talk enough. Because if they did it would usually stop the idiotic plot in its tracks. Points for meandering down the road less traveled.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Good news: you've got great actors with wonderful chemistry and comic timing. Bad News: they're playing some of the most irritating, unlikable, infuriating characters ever committed to film

March 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Triple J | Comment (1)
Triple J

Even Nicholson's usually scene-stealing bluster can't get this disappointing addition to the Brooks filmography going.

February 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Screen International | Comment (1)
Screen International

Every scene is as achingly long and laboured as the film's instantly forgettable title.

February 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post | Comment (1)
Birmingham Post

More creative energy has gone into furnishing these characters' apartments than devising credible emotional situations to put them in; the result is wholly undemanding, and best saved for a long-haul flight.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Scotsman | Comment (1)

James L. Brooks has clearly spent far too long in Los Angeles.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express | Comments (3)
Daily Express

Though neither mindless nor insensitive, this interminable movie falls far short of Brooks's best work, which is to say Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian | Comment (1)

Seemingly well-intentioned and inoffensive - but there are so many other films that do this sort of thing faster, better and with more jokes, including a couple from writer-director James L Brook's own back catalogue.

January 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)

Though the film was a box-office dud in the US, Brooks delivers an amusing and consistenly engaging relationship piece that is a cut above the standard romantic comedy.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia) | Comment (1)
The Age (Australia)

Despite the best efforts of all involved, trying to prise laughs out of How Do You Know is like trying to make concrete float.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK] | Comment (1)
Daily Mirror [UK]

Instead of juicing it up with jokes, Brooks has inadvertently given us another story of the American condition, which is that of absolute and incorrigible self-centredness.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent

How Do You Know is a slight and predictable tale of modern day love, padded with subplots about father-son bonding and undeclared love.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo

For the most part, this story of trying to find out how you know you are in love is so slow and laborious you'll wish they'd just flip a coin and be done with it.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Audience Reviews for How Do You Know

Rom com with a good cast. Lisa finds herself without a job, moves in with her boyfriend then realises she is attracted someone else.
June 10, 2012
Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

Hmm, well, based on the talent involved, this had the possibility of being amazing. Considering the reception this film got, I was a little befuddled, but was hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Well, I've seen it now, and....the film is not terrible, just terribly mediocre. The main issues are that the script is just dull, the characters aren't really all that interesting, and everyone just looks bored and uninspired...especially Jack, who pretty much just phones it in and plays himself, but goes by the name of Charles. Also, this film, like many of Brooks's, goes on far too long, but here it's not worth it because the film isn't all that interesting.

It's not a complete loss though. Reese and Rudd are actually decent, and I kind of liked their characters, but I couldn't stand Wilson here. He's just too frustrating and a little of his character goes a long way. Plus, there are a few good scenes, but overall, this film just seems all over the place, messy, and in need of some revisions.

If you feel you need to see this, then see it, but catch it on tv or something. There are far worse films that are just as sweet and well-meaning, but this one was just really came off all the worse because there's some great people involved.
July 10, 2011
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Lisa: Never drink to feel better; drink to feel even better.

How Do You Know is the story of Lisa (played wonderfully by the beautiful Reese Witherspoon) who got cut from her professional softball team and confused about her relationship with major league pitcher Matty (played by Owen Wilson in his usual knuckle-head and awkward role) and doesn't quite know what she's doing with her life. Enter corporate executive George (played by Paul Rudd in a surprisingly real and astounding performance), who is being investigated for something along with his father Charles (amazingly played by the legendary Jack Nicholson in another pitch-perfect role). The real scene stealer is Kathryn Hahn, who plays George's loyal, pregnant, and honest secretary Annie in her most hilarious role since 2008's hit comedy Step Brothers, where she played John C. Reily's love interest. Put all of this together, and we now have ourselves a James L. Brooks movie.

Read the full review at
July 4, 2011

Super Reviewer

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn, Mark Linn-Baker, Lenny Venito, Molly Price, Shelley Conn, Tony Shalhoub

Director: James L. Brooks

Summary: Feeling spurned after being cut from the national team due to her age, newly single softball player Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) finds herself in the middle of a heated love triangle, as a professional baseball player (Owen Wilson) and a business executive (Paul Rudd) compete for her affections.

My Thoughts: "The film is a mess. It's such a disappointment because I had a little bit of high hopes considering the cast. I really don't understand what the film was suppose to be about. In the end, I think it was "How Do You Know", when you are in love. I loved the film 'Overnight Delivery', and I was hoping to catch a glimpse of that chemistry between Reese and Rudd again in this film. Unfortunately I think the writing put that spark out for this film. I did enjoy Paul and Kathryn's screen time. She was funny in the movie and those scenes are my favorite in the film. The rest is a blur that I will most likely never remember considering the film is forgettable."
July 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Psychiatrist: Figure out what you want and learn how to get it.
    – Submitted by Milena K (21 months ago)
    1. George: This stuff was invented by this man in Central Ohio as white goo ... used to remove soot off wall paper... when gas and electric heating came in there was no longer a need for the cleaning goo the guy was going under ... Joe McVicker, his sister in law was Kay Zufall. So Kay Zufall discovered that her kids liked squeezing the goo a lot more than hard modeling clay so she suggested to her brother in law Joe that they colour the stuff and call it play- doh ... So I have kept this for a long time as proof that we are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.
    – Submitted by Hriya M (2 years ago)
    1. George: We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Lisa: Never drink to feel better; drink to feel even better.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Matty: I went crazy when you left, I broke a lamp.
    – Submitted by Lawrence B (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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