Saturday, February 1, 2014

How Do You Know (2010) [PG-13] ***

Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is 31, and past her prime as a member of the USA women's softball team. Regardless, when she's unexpectedly cut from the team it comes as a huge shock, and she resists moving on even while she is critically evaluating her life and what she wants for her future. In a weak moment Lisa agrees to move in with her current boyfriend Matty (Owen Wilson), a major-league baseball pitcher, although she doesn't trust him and doesn't think he's really grown up yet. At the same time, she is intrigued by George (Paul Rudd), a gentle but bewildered corporate executive who is being investigated by the SEC for securities fraud, and who is beginning to suspect that he has been set up by his manipulative father (played by Jack Nicholson), the founder and CEO of the company. 

This is a film that offers the viewer very little satisfaction. While the three leading characters - Witherspoon, Rudd and Wilson - are likeable enough, there isn't a clear story arc, and there's frustratingly little romantic chemistry between Witherspoon and either Wilson or Rudd. There's also a sub-plot involving a pregnant secretary (played by Kathryn Hahn) that contributes little to the plot or to the development of the main characters. And, finally, the third act is slow, meandering and unfocused. Written and directed by James L. Brooks who boasts 19 Prime Time Emmy Awards, and who both wrote and directed such great films as Terms of EndearmentBroadcast News, and As Good as It Gets, this film is both glib and tediously long. As an example, the title How Do You Know comes from a baseball bullpen conversation about knowing when you're really in love. The answer is that you'll use a condom when you're having sex with other women.

Only forgiving fans of the luminous Reese Witherspoon should bother with this film. A strikingly similar, but far more rewarding film on a closely-related theme is Life or Something Like It with Angelina Jolie, Edward Burns and Christian Kane. I can highly recommend that film, but not How Do You Know

Labels: baseball, comedy, drama, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 46/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=49, viewers=50)    
Blu-ray

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