“How Do You Know” Movie Review


     I suppose it is mandatory for some studio to make a movie like “How Do You Know” and get it released in time for the holiday season.  The formula is normally simple, as these films will always be headlined by big name talent and essentially play out as a romantic comedy of some kind.  Last year’s “It’s Complicated” nailed this concept and  this film’s director, James L. Brooks has done this before with the well made and well acted “As Good As It Gets”, but with “How DoYou Know” I wondered why he bothered with this one.  The story is lame and sometimes confusing.  The main players are unrealistic.  The editing of the film is seems amateur.  Bottom line, “How Do You Know” misses the mark, big time.  If it was supposed to be a heart warming comedy, Brooks loses the audience immediately.  I really don’t know what he has here.

     The editing makes the film hard to follow.  We’re given a scene where the conversation or actions don’t exactly end.  The editor then moves on to another scene which is long and drawn out.  Suddenly we are returned to the previous scene and the conversation you were a part of 5 minutes ago continues as if they were frozen in time.  This means the film has no flow at all and is very choppy.  A good editing example was this summer’s “Inception”, this film serves as this year’s bad editing example.

     We’re introduced to Lisa, played by Reese Witherspoon, a 31 year old career softball player and single woman who apparently has a habit of dating only jocks.  I know that many people don’t know what they want in life and therefore waiver during important decisions, but Lisa is an absolute mess.  A bumble head really and as crazy a character as you may see.  The two men in her life are no less well put together mentally, but even they must be thinking during conversation if they are speaking with someone who’s completely off her rocker.  If this was the way the character was written, so be it but the execution is way over the top.

     Lisa’s love interest, on again - off again - on again - off again, depends on what point in the film we’re talking about, is Matty played by Owen Wilson.  Matty is a baseball player with the Washington Nationals and lives a life as your typical male whore.  How do we know he’s a whore? After an initial one night stand with Lisa, he takes her to his closet in the morning and pulls from a standby stack of Nationals women’s warm up suits in every size and tells her “You don’t need to wear that dress again.”  Of course Lisa is thoroughly offended, walks out on Matty, then in the hall way has a moment of clarity (or whatever) and comes back and actually apologizes to the tramp of a man for judging him.  I’m sorry, but women don’t apologize for things like that (some don’t apologize for anything at all).  Later in the film, we find out Matty does not view his relationship with live in girlfriend Lisa as being monogamous.  Big surprise there as we already know Matty’s idea of being in love is “using a condom with the other girls.”

    The guy in the film pining for Lisa is George, played by Paul Rudd.  George, you see is in a bit of trouble as he is the CEO for his father’s financial firm and he is about to be indicted by the SEC for securities fraud.  Because Lisa wants to see what its like to date a non athlete, she is set up on a blind date with George shortly after he learns of his demise.  Of course, he is a complete mess but guess what? Lisa cheers him up and he falls for her.  Whatever.

     I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the presence of Jack Nicholson in the film as Charles, George’s father and owner of the company.  Jack is being Jack here, nothing new, but the sub plot involving him is absurd. What a waste.  Apparently, he is responsible for the company’s dirty financial deeds and comes to George with a favor to ask.  He wants George to bite the bullet for him and go to jail as a first time offender for 3 years.  Charles on the other hand has done this before and his repeat offender sentence would be more like 25 years.  George tells him he’ll do it unless he’s successful in literally talking Lisa into dumping her $14 million per year earning boyfriend for him.  Again, whatever.  On the other hand, maybe George and Lisa would be perfect for one another. Two looney tunes.

     What’s funny is after an initial blow up due to George’s presence in “his place”, Matty never seems to care that George is trying to take Lisa from him.  You know why he doesn’t care?  Because he’s got another dozen women lining up to swoon over him and he knows it.  Perhaps the values in society are indicative of this type of behavior, but its hard to believe people would act this way.  I presume the filmmaker’s goal here was to leave us with something memorable, but the results here are far from.  The relationships presented here are just plain stupid. A silly love triangle.  Smells like a movie made for the paycheck because How Do You Know is heartless.  GRADE: D-