DVD Review: While not up to par with James L. Brooks’ greatest hits, How Do You Know is a welcome addition to the rom-com genre. (Meaning it’s not fluffy enough to spur the loss of brain cells… nor will men have any reason to be embarrassed watching it!)
We’ve discussed often here on redblog the idea that expectations play a huge role in one’s enjoyment of a movie. How Do You Know is the kind of film that really puts that theory to the test. Those who focus on the fact that it’s a love-triangle dramedy from James L. Brooks — the award-winning writer/director/producer behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, and As Good As It Gets (to name a few) — are almost guaranteed to be disappointed. But those, like me, who are just hoping and praying for a break from the usual rom-com silliness that’s been pervading theaters across the land for years, will be satisfied. There are laughs, there’s at least one lump-in-the-throat moment… and, uh, you really can’t beat the cast!
All of the action revolves around Reese Witherspoon as Lisa, a pro softball player whose life becomes somewhat aimless when she’s cut from her team. She’s determined not to feel sorry for herself, and throws herself into other activities. One of those activities is a fast-paced romance with Matty (Owen Wilson), a major league pitcher… and major league ladies’ man. Early on in her relationship with Matty, Lisa goes on a disastrous date with George (Paul Rudd), who gets things off to a horrible start because — unbeknownst to Lisa — he’s the target of a corporate fraud investigation and is totally freaking out.
You know what happens next, right? Matty suddenly decides that Lisa’s The One… and George does, too. Ladies, that’s a tough choice, hmm? I can’t promise you won’t want to slap Reese’s character upside the head for getting herself into such a horrible, awful quandary!
Seriously, though, while the overall plot is as predictable as ever, what makes the film worth seeing are the honest, familiar moments sprinkled throughout. Like George refusing to face his problems head-on and instead getting drunk and bellowing out R&B tunes along with the radio. Or Matty introducing Lisa to a closet full of pink pullovers that he’s been thoughtful enough to stock so that his many, many, MANY flings don’t have to do the Walk of Shame in their day-old clothes after staying over at this place. Or Lisa’s back and forth with a therapist where she just wants him to cut to the chase already and tell her the single best piece of advice he could give anyone, regardless of what they’re seeing him for (I gotta admit, his answer has stuck with me… even though Brooks did a poor job of incorporating it into Lisa’s storyline afterward).
Jack Nicholson’s in the mix as well, playing George’s sketchy father, but it’s almost criminal that he’s featured on the movie poster — his performance is disappointingly generic and barely registers a blip on the radar, especially when compared to the leading trio’s. But if you’re in the mood for a lighthearted love story that will provide a few hours of escapism, I think Reese, Owen and Paul can get the job done for you. And for the record, it is my strong belief that Lisa makes the right choice in the end.
How Do You Know is now available at redbox. Reserve a copy!
Redbox movies from the cast of How Do You Know: