Talk about the most disappointing film I’ve seen lately, How Do You Know was under-developed and poorly written. The film relied solely on its big-name stars to carry it, and boy it didn’t get far. I expected infinitely more from a writer-director as well-versed as James L. Brooks (“The Simpsons,” As Good as It Gets).
Eric Robinette says, “The film lurches from scene to scene with no momentum and no connective tissue between the scenes. There was a good idea for a movie, but somewhere along the line, that good idea got lost. Brooks’ screenplay was under-written before he shot it, and/or it was overcooked after he edited it.”
The film’s intersecting plot lines were dizzying and part of the reason the film fell flat for me. As a viewer I didn’t get to really know the characters because too many of them got too much screen time. Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is an aging softball player that is devastated after being cut from the team. At this hectic time in her life she starts dating George (Paul Rudd), an innocent man being investigated for fraud, as well as Matty (Owen Wilson), a professional baseball player and womanizer.Wilson’s character was the only really funny person in the film. He can make any line funny with his nuances. Witherspoon has some funny moments and mannerisms but doesn’t seem fully comfortable in a leading comedic role. The ‘romance’ between Lisa and her men felt forced and had no sincerity.
Other roles were filled by Jack Nicholson, as George’s prick of a father, and Kathryn Hahn (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), George’s assistant. Hahn was pretty funny in the film, but her character wasn’t really needed. Nicholson’s roles are becoming more and more tired. He always plays the same character: an angry asshole. Robinette says of Nicholson, “Nicholson’s acting is weirdly manic, with his character launching into rants that seem to be there solely to provide a few “Jack” moments, but none of them register.”
Robinette agrees the film isn’t really noteworthy for anyone involved, “The characters talk with such self-consciousness and self-importance that I wanted them to shut the hell up. This should not have happened considering all the players here, who also include Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson and writer-director Brooks. Sadly, none of these great talents is firing at all thrusters in How Do You Know. Worse, some of them are misfiring.” Full review here.