Movie Review - How Do You Know

editor’s note: When your wife graciously offers  to write a review of a bad chick flick, who am I to refuse. And if she didn’t like it, then none of our male readers should allow themselves to be dragged to this movie.

by Jennifer Leventhal


Wilson and Witherspoon in “How Do You Know”

How Do You Know when a movie isn’t very good. I spent last Saturday afternoon away from the fray of holiday shoppers watching James L Brooks latest movie. The premise of the film is good,

Reese Witherspoon plays Lisa, a not so young softball player let go from the national team. She is dating Matty, Owen Wilson, a star pitcher for the Washington Nationals. Enter George Madison, an appealing Paul Rudd,  who is set up with Lisa by one of her teammates. Lisa is at a crossroads trying to figure out what she wants in a relationship and life. Also grappling with life changing events is George, who is being investigated for fraud in his family company. It turns out George’s father, played by the legendary Jack Nicholson,  is responsible for the problems.
The promise of the movie was good, here was an all-star team, including two Oscar winners, helmed by a hall of fame writer/director James L Brooks. I expected Brooks’ snappy dialogue and well defined characters, similar to his previous hits like “As Good as It Gets” and “Broadcast News”. Instead it felt like being at a ballgame and watching a hard hit line drive heading for the bleachers, but ends up being caught on the warning track. The lines fell flat and there was little depth to the characters, with the exception of Annie, George’s assistant, played by Kathryn Hahn, who is nine months pregnant and full of worry and love.  Witherspoon looks cute in her softball uniform and tries to use motivational sports phrases to get her through her rocky relationship with Matty. She is one of my favorite actresses , but she strikes out never making us care enough about what happens to Lisa.  Owen Wilson is his usual goofy character that seems interchangeable with most of his previous roles. He could play second base with any team and it wouldn’t matter. Paul Rudd’s George seems kind and caring, but you never get to know him that well. Jack Nicholson doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but he fills his role well. Actually one of the most touching scenes is when he admits to his son that he caused the problems with the company. He starts to cry. I wanted to shout at the screen that there is no crying in baseball.  The movie gets a ground rule double – two stars


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  • Nice job Jennifer...makes me want to take a pass on the the sports references!

  • The rating on this movie ("ground rule double") is two notches too high. It deserved a solid "strikeout". Everything the reviewer said is accurate. In a nutshell, you never develop a bond with any character and all are one dimensional. There's no real plot or "aha!" moment; the movie just muddles along but never really goes anywhere. For me, the only interesting moment is when we learn who the father of the Annie's baby is. Also particularly irritating was the number of times one sees an overhead microphone in the movie. Everyone involved in the process of making this goofed, though I have no idea why it was missed in the original filming much less the editing. No one cared enough to catch this (6-8 instances!!) which speaks volumes about the film itself. Jack Nicholson must have been really desperate for a paycheck. Bad, bad, bad, bad.

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