How Do You Know - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

How Do You Know Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 10, 2012
Rom com with a good cast. Lisa finds herself without a job, moves in with her boyfriend then realises she is attracted someone else.
Super Reviewer
December 1, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2010
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."
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2011
Lightweight but very sweet little comedy/drama with appealing players.
Super Reviewer
½ June 21, 2011
How Do You Know is not really a great movie and doesn't warrant any attention, but it manages to have some really good moments and great characters. Reese Witherspoon at times felt like she was just being herself in real life and that sort've takes away from this being a movie, but luckily Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd are good enough to pull you back in. Owen Wilson's ability to make even the slimiest of characters come off as charming and fun is a gift from the gods and makes for some really bizarre moments. You keep thinking you should hate this character, but he ends up being hilarious and almost mesmerizing in his tactics. Paul Rudd basically plays a generic good person, but it's actually one of the better performances he's given since his new found fame. Jack Nicholson's brief moments on screen are perfectly tailored to him and he's always fun to watch. It terms of story, this is definitely lacking something honest. So many of the monologues and dialogue comes off as forced, mostly with Reese Witherspoon's character, but at times it's interesting. If this was completely okay with being a romantic comedy, that would be fine. However, it tries to be something different half of the time and it messes with the tone and how you're supposed to take this as a movie.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2011
Cute romantic comedy with top-notch actors. I thought the comedy was better than the romance though.
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2011
I can tell the actors tried hard, but this movie was horrible. It wasnt funny at all, I laughed once at a Bambi reference. It had such a random and pointless plot. The actors worked hard and I guess I respect their performances. It was a disaster of a movie, and I still hate Romantic Comedies.
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2010
"Happiness in life is about... finding out what you want and learning how to ask for it."

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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2011
Super Reviewer
½ October 11, 2010
James L. Brooks, of Terms of Endearment and As Good as it Gets fame brings us his latest film, the painstakingly long (and painfully unfunny) How Do You Know. Romantic "comedy" is forced and nearly devoid of laughs (I must've laughed about three times). The promising cast didn't entirely deliver: Jack Nicholson plays it exactly the same as he's done for the last ten years and usually stellar Paul Rudd is lackluster. On the other hand, Reese Witherspoon is amazing and Owen Wilson makes for a terribly endearing douchebag; their work deserved a better script. The closing scene is brilliant, but it's too little too late. Definitely one of the worst films of 2010.
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2011
Really? It wasn't even two hours long? The way this film limped along, I thought I'd been watching it all afternoon. Glossy, scmaltzy pap with little to redeem it other than Jack Nicholson, who yet again does a fantastic job of playing Jack Nicholson. It's not that the film wasn't without its moments, but they were contrived, and all the important dialogue was unwieldy, even irritating. Dear James L. Brooks: the 80s called. They want their sappy movies back... At least Terms of Endearment started out as a good McMurtry novel; How Do You Know is a boring, clichéd mess of a film.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2010
I expected a little more from this movie considering the actors, but it was just okay. I am a big Paul Rudd fan, and even he couldn't make me like this movie more...even though he gave it his best shot. This was just plain lame..
Super Reviewer
½ March 19, 2011
I really wanted to like this movie, but I gotta say it stunk. First and foremost it is way, way to long. 2 hours easily feel like 3 as the movie moves slow, and doesn't really go anywhere. Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd are not very good in this at all. They have zero chemistry. The best performance is Owen Wilson, and he is the only reason to watch this. Actually I'd recommend fast forwarding to just his scenes, you won't miss much I promise.
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2010
It was an ok movie, not so much of a fancy story but it was enyojable and at times funny.

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.
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2010
Average, and not really the type of movie that keeps you interested because you know exactly how it is going to end pretty early in. My main concern was that it was going to be a "sports" movie, as Reese Witherspoon plays a professional softball player here, as does Owen Wilson. Needn't have worried, it is only a small part of this film as her character, Lisa, is sacked pretty early on.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2010
A new comedy from Writer-Director James L. Brooks


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? "
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2011
Almost nothing here works, and that is quite the shocker considering all of the talent Involved. A pretty embarrassing effort overall.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2011

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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 29, 2010
Apparently it's a bad thing that "How Do You Know" takes the time to develop characters who have real wants and needs, who aren't afraid to be uncertain about things, let it's plot unfold naturally, let it's scenes linger and take their time; because "How Do You Know" was hated by critics and audiences a like. This baffles me. This wonderful picture from the great James L. Brooks does, to me at least (and apparently I am alone on this one), everything a great film should do. It engaged me emotionally and intellectually, I related to the characters and their problems, I found it to be human and funny and ultimately timeless but very relevant. Brooks' film is an ode to those who are just off center of making their lives work and I found it next to irresistible. Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson are all terrific here, delivering witty, honest and well rounded performances. The film is nicely directed, beautifully shot and attentively written. In a year when films have to be all high concept and surreal images trump character and motivation (yes, I'm looking at you "Inception" and "Black Swan"), "How Do You Know" is a lovely breath of fresh air. I just can't fathom how people can dislike such an honest and moving picture.
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