HOW DO YOU KNOW Movie Review
A romantic comedy involving Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd, two of my favorite actors? It seemed too good to be true when I saw the trailers, and perhaps that’s why I was slightly disappointed with the finished product. HOW DO YOU KNOW, directed by James L. Brooks (of As Good As It Gets fame) features an A-list cast that’s certainly fun to watch…the movie itself, however, falls a little short of the magic that is needed to make it stand out in a season of epic action films, kids movies and smartly written dramas.
Reese Witherspoon plays Lisa, a former athlete whose career (and subsequent Olympic dream) is abruptly brought to an end because of an age cut-off. On the other end of the spectrum is George (Paul Rudd), a corporate executive who works for his dad (Jack Nicholson). George’s dreams have also been cut short, in his case because of financial crimes he is wrongly accused for. The triangle between the two is Lisa’s on-and-off again relationship with wealthy Matty (Own Wilson), a sweet but arrogant ladies man seemingly will stop at nothing to show Lisa he is the perfect man for her.
George and Lisa meet and connect instantly over their respective misfortunes, and despite the fact their personalities are complete opposites, they fall into a relationship that forces them to connect and discover what it means to find someone at the right time. The ironic thing is that this is the entire point of How Do You Know – connecting with the right person – but unfortunately, the movie never quite connects with the audience. The plot is disjointed and bouncy, and there is so much going on at times that you begin to wonder if Brooks even developed his characters, since we are barely able to emotionally connect with them before they are whisked off to a different part of the storyline.
That’s not to say How Do You Know is all bad and unwatchable. The movie does have good points that help make up for the disjointed plot, the stellar cast being one of them. While the chemistry between Wilson, Rudd and Witherspoon never quite gels, all three manage to hold their own nicely, keeping the audience entertained for the duration of the film. Each actor seems to fill their role doing what they do best – Wilson being the man of comedic timing, Rudd being the boyfriend who is problematic but otherwise “perfect” and Witherspoon being the girl who gives off the Barbie vibe but inside has layers of emotional depth. Knowing what Nicholson is capable of given his career, it is a little disappointing to see him in a role that seems underwhelming, but he still gives a fine performance.
Fluffy and fun, most movie goers in the mood for an easy flick will find How Do You Know enjoyable…as long as they’re not looking to think too hard. It seems that that is when you can appreciate the movie best – by simply enjoying what the characters bring to the screen and their interactions with each other.