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Genre: Comedy/Romance
Director: James L. Brooks
Cast: Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd, Kathryn Hahn, Yuki Matsuzaki, Mark Linn-Baker, Lenny Venito
RunTime: 2 hrs 1 min
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing International
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)

Official Website: http://www.howdoyouknow-movie.com/

Opening Day: 3 March 2011

Synopsis: Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson star in "How Do You Know", the new comedy written and directed by James L. Brooks that takes a contemporary and romantic look at the question, "How do you know?"

Lisa (Witherspoon) is a woman whose athletic ability is the defining passion of her life, having been her focus since early childhood. When she is cut from her team, everything she has ever known is suddenly taken from her. Not knowing what to do, she stumbles toward regular life. In this mode, she begins a fling with Matty (Wilson), a major league baseball pitcher, a self-centered ladies man - a narcissist with a code of honor.

George Madison (Rudd) is a straight-arrow businessman whose complicated relationship with his father, Charles (Nicholson), takes a turn when George is accused of a financial crime, even though he's done nothing wrong. Though he may be headed to jail, George's honesty, integrity, and unceasing optimism may be his only path to keeping his sanity.

Before Lisa's relationship with Matty takes root, she meets George for a first date on the worst evening of each of their lives: she has just been cut, and he has just been served. When everything else seems to be falling apart, they will discover what it means to have something wonderful happen.

Movie Review:

How do you know when a movie isn’t that great, but yet there’s something which keeps you watching till the end credits rolled?

Nope, it’s not when your leading lady is Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, who seems flustered and distracted as the female protagonist who has just been cut from the USA softball team due to age. It may help that Witherspoon looks fresh faced and charmingly sweet in most of the scenes, her performance in the 121 minute movie does not come across as exceptionally delightful, considering what she had given in films like Pleasantville (1998) and Legally Blonde (2001).

It is also not when the second billed Owen Wilson looks goofily appealing as a major league baseball pitcher who dates Witherspoon’s character. The comedian has been able to pull off quirky roles in films like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007), but in this somewhat dreary romantic comedy, Wilson just seems to be doing the obligatory, and fails to have much chemistry with his leading lady.

We are sure the movie isn’t held together by three time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson, who plays a father and boss figure who gets into some trouble with the law. The actor, who is well known for his portrayal of neurotic characters (just look to 2002’s About Schmidt and 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give), does his usual and effortlessly gives what is required of him without much spark.

So it has to come to the underrated Paul Rudd, whom we obviously have been rooting for quite a while. The unassuming Rudd plays an executive who feels down and out when he finds himself the target of a criminal investigation. Not only does he lose his girlfriend, he also has some trouble handling his eccentric father played by Nicholson. Yes, Rudd is the man who has managed to make us stay seated throughout this otherwise forgettable production.

The story is centered on the love triangle between Witherspoon, Wilson and Rudd as they meander through the movie’s overlong runtime through a series of inconsequential events, which, well, eventually leads to a happy ending. In the mix is Nicholson’s father and boss character who, if you ask us, does not serve much purpose to the unfocused plot.

The renowned James L. Brooks is the writer director who has penned and helmed the charismatic As Good as It Gets (1997), which led to Nicholson winning the Oscar for Best Actor. Having also written and directed 1983’s Terms of Endearment (for which Nicholson won a Best Supporting Actor), the Academy had recognised his talent by awarding him with the Oscar for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The enigmatic film also won Best Picture that year. So what happened with this movie, which seemed to have all the correct elements but fell flat as a whole?

The humour isn’t spectacular here, as most of the jokes appear clichéd and uninteresting. The courage to find true love amidst the trials and tribulations of life crises has been done to death, which means the entire picture may be a yawn fest for the demanding viewer. The uneven pacing and imprecise plot development does not help either – and the cast, as likeable as they are, to hold the show with their personalities. What a pity then, as we were really hoping to recommend a movie starring Rudd.

Movie Rating:

(The movie may feature likeable leads, but it is really nothing but a passé romantic comedy)

Review by John Li


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