How Do You Know Reviews
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.
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."
After being cut from the USA softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau.
James L. Brooks has given us some very fine films (Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets) and some mediocre (at best) ones - like Spanglish, The Simpsons Movie and numerous TV series. The odd thing about this much maligned How Do You Know is that it seems to be searching to find a reason for being mad - often to the point of feeling as though Brooks wrote the script as he went. For this viewer the film is not as bad as the audiences and critics say, but it is definitely one of Brooks' memorable works. The characters he created are for the most part losers who manage to get along in life because of an occult optimism. That part is refreshing.
Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is a much loved Pro Softball player whose ego is badly bruised when she is cut from the new team. She dates Matty (Owen Wilson), a wealthy major league baseball pitcher who is either horrifically naive or completely clueless when it comes to relating to Lisa. Concurrently we meet George (Paul Rudd), a bright but emotionally ill- equipped businessman who has just been indicted in his work for his father Charles's (Jack Nicholson) company - apparently for something he did not do. Just as this vulnerable guy needs support he is dumped by his girlfriend and must move out of his place to lesser digs with the help of his devoted assistant Annie (Kathryn Hahn) who is very pregnant but unwed. Lisa meets George on a date arranged by well-meaning friends, but Lisa is 'committed' to Matty. Some chemistry between Lisa and George develops, Matty makes moves to change and invites Lisa to move in, George and his father duel over the indictment, and finally the 'sort of love' triangle finds a shaky center and Pow! the movie is over.
Witherspoon makes the best of her odd role and Paul Rudd restores some glory to his dwindling cinematic repertoire. Owen Wilson is Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson looks like he is one the wrong movie set. Part of this little film is smart, but it just never quite gels. How do we know? Just watch it with low expectations and be surprised here and there.
There's a question mark missing from the title of James L. Brooks' navel-gazer, a film that explores how we know whether we are in love, trouble, denial, limbo...
The rogue punctuation isn't the only thing AWOL from a project that, on paper, boasts all the right ingredients for comedy gold but has failed to cash in at the US box office.
There's perky Reese Witherspoon playing Lisa, a perky pro-softball player who finds herself professionally directionless when she's dropped from the Olympic team. She's also emotionally torn between jobless, indicted and sweet George (sweet Paul Rudd) and Matty, a womanising baseball player with a good heart (affable Owen Wilson).
George is also stressed over his boorish pa (Jack Nicholson, shouty), who's putting pressure on him to take the rap for dodgy dealing in their family business. Everyone's in a fix. Everyone wants to cogitate neurotically about it all. Or worse, talk about how they don't/can't talk about it.
Like his characters, Brooks seems similarly all at sea about what he's trying to achieve. If this is a romcom, there's very little rom or com. Usually so effortless in delivering mirth, Witherspoon and Rudd are reduced to desperate facial gymnastics as they try to sell leaden lines that sound like motivational mantras.
There's also a sour meet-not-so-cute that sucks much of the likeability out of their characters. Nicholson's bullying showboat seems imported from an unconnected still-born project, while a side story with George's secretary being proposed to in hospital plays as both hollow and strange.
Only Wilson seems assured in his role as bonehead smuthound, trotting out his tried and tested Fockers routine and hogging the few genuine laughs in a haphazardly paced film.
Somewhere in here there may be an interesting comedy about a woman who doesn't know if she's cut out for the usual female options offered by your standard Devil Wears Bride Wars Shopaholic confection.
Witherspoon is at her most effective when flirting with Rudd over a cocktail and musing on the fact that she's not yearning for marriage. But Brooks seems unable to be simple without being simplistic.
Perhaps he should have taken the advice Rudd's sadsack doles out: "We're all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work."
A few adjustments could have made this As Good As It Gets. Instead, it's a folly that squanders its talent.
The rest of it is made up of how she gets to know, and start dating Matty, (Owen Wilson), who is obviously a douche - complete with a drawer full of new toothbrushes and different sized women's clothes for all his "conquests" to use. Surprisingly, he is fairly likeable here, as he is charming and generous and there is nothing actually mean spirited in his behaviour - it is just how he is, and though you can believe he has genuine feelings for Lisa, it is apparent that this is one leopard who is incapable of changing his spots.
Around the same time she is set up by a friend on a date with George, (Paul Rudd) who is facing some issues at work due to dodgy dealings by the boss, who is also his father (Jack Nicholson), and has also just been ditched by his girlfriend. He is not actually on top form at this point and so it is meant to seem like a real struggle for her to decide if she likes Matty, or George. I really don't think I am giving anything away here since it is blindingly obvious!
The movie kind of stalls along. I wouldn't say drags exactly, but it does not have enough substance and so relies on the cast to keep it interesting - for the most they do. Kathryn Hahn damn near steals the show as Annie, George's father's hilarious secretary. Reese is an actress I have always liked,and she is fine here, but I couldn't help thinking she was slightly wasted on this material. They did raise an interesting point when she started to talk about what was important to her in life, but as typical in this type of movie, they did not follow it through. Anytime a mainstream movie portrays a woman who is not motivated by marriage and babies, they chicken out lest she be unlikeable and make the movie tank!
All in all, not a bad film, but could have been better and I can't see it appealing to everyone.
This movie is so plain, it has no spice in it whats o ever, it lacks comedy, it lacks drama, it lacks romance, it just sucks.
Lise Jorgesen is caught in a love triangle.
I was able to sum up the plotless plot of this movie above with only 8 words, and ill use the same 8 words to tell you all this "dont go waste your money with this crap"
Lisa: "When you're in something you got to give it everything you have or else what are you doing? "
Pro-softballer Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) gets cut from the olympic team and her world is rattled. Love's the answer (I guess) but how can she decide between a narcisstic, womanizing, major leaguer (Owen Wilson) and a boyish, lost-puppy, corporate scapegoat (Paul Rudd)? (Hhhmmm, that's a toughy). But how do you know when your in love? That is the titular question that this rambling, murky, and inconsequential film attempts to contemplate.
If you think that sounds corny, it is. Witherspoon - Ms. Adorable with pitch-perfect reactions - gives the mopey and mixed up Lisa her all. But James L. Brooks directs and pens this romcom like a wannabe, self-help guru, imparting inane life-lessons of the Jerry-Springer-final-thought variety. Lisa's bathroom mirror is strewn with Postit-notes that read cheesy, go-getter, imperatives: "You see obstacles only after losing sight of your goals." Write that down.
Rudd is the nice-guy to Wilson's jock-jerk. Lisa strings both men along, hopsctoching between them. She's a sulker and stalks off frequently; like when she discovers that Wilson's Matty has sleep-over-clothes for one-night-stands or later when she realizes he's not monogamous (big shock that the guys a pompous ass). Rudd's George is being investigated for shadey deals involving his papa's company. He's innocent, but catches the wrath anyway and is hung out to dry by his associates. A hormonal and pregnant secretary (Kathryn Hahn) stays loyal, but even she can't help him out of his funk. That problem's saved for the magical remedies of love. Can George and Lisa really save each other?
Just like all its predecessors, How Do You Know thrives on awkward exchanges. Unlike spring's When In Rome or Leap Year, were not subject to grating, scewball-physicality, but instead the numskullery is related in pretensious, pointless conversations. These characters open their mouths, but nothing of substance comes out. The film's best scene might be Lisa and George's first date when the discomfort level reaches a pinnacle and both decide to sustain silence then on. It said more than most of Brooks' therapy-talk put together.
To be fair, How Do You Know is basically watchable, and benign. The cast is talented and doing their best, especially Jack Nicholson who steels scenes as George's crooked, shark-suited father. Nicholson makes the most of the character's sleezy cowardice, getting some laughs in-tow. But the script is boring, the pacing arduous, and the situations so inorganic and spurious that these characters seem to float away in some lovesick and lofty artifice: problems history, self-improvement unnecessary. It's ironic because Brooks thinks he'll rescue the lovelorn with his expert insights. But Witherspoon and co. aren't avatars into the nuts-and-bolts aspects of relationships, they're as alien as the inhabitants of district 9. (Sigh). This film really could have been so much better.
How Do You Know serves up the cornball romanticism with artificial sugar. If that's your cup of tea then bottoms up. But this tea's also laced with sedative. Sleep tight.