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How Do You Know

How Do You Know: Exasperatingly Boring Romantic Comedy

  • Jack NicholsonOwen Wilson...
  • ComedyDrama
  • Out now
  • James L. Brooks
reviewed by
Soraya Morayef
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How Do You Know: Exasperatingly Boring Romantic Comedy

Softball player Lisa (Witherspoon) gets cut
from the US national team when her coach believes her to be past her prime
(read: over 30 years-old). Lisa is devastated about the sudden loss of the pain purpose to her life, and somewhat uncomfortable that her new boyfriend Matty (Wilson),
a famous pitcher for the Washington Nationals, is ambivalent about monogamy
and the quintessential player in every sense of the word.

One day, Lisa gets a call from George
(Rudd) a business executive who took her phone number from a common friend to
ask her out on a blind date. George mumbles and blunders his way through the
awkward phone call, she kindly turns him down, and they each go their separate

Then George finds that he’s the target of a
federal criminal investigation into his company, which is incidentally run by
his dad Charles (Nicholson), after which he’s promptly fired and left alone to
deal with the inevitable disaster and quite possible jail sentence.

Bordering on a nervous breakdown, George
calls Lisa up and asks her out for dinner. Lisa accepts, still overwhelmed by
the sudden end to her career and in need of someone to talk to. In what could possibly be one of the most awkward
scenes ever filmed, George blabbers on uncontrollably until Lisa suggests he
shuts up and they eat in silence. Somehow, this long, awkward silence of a meal
is supposed to be a defining moment in their burgeoning friendship, yet this is
completely lost on the viewer.

This reviewer could go on with the tedious
details of this monotonous film, but it’s better to not bore the reader as much
as the film did. The pace is so incredibly slow that you spend three quarters
of the film waiting for some point to be made; and the ending is so ridiculous you can’t believe you wasted precious 116 minutes.

How big stars like Witherspoon and Wilson are
in this terrible film is beyond our comprehension; other than looking adorably
pretty, Witherspoon adds absolutely nothing to her role. Wilson’s Matty is so charming and sweet, it’s
hard to understand why Lisa has any trouble falling for him. If anything, both
characters are so one-dimensional and cute to look at, you’re pretty sure
they’re a match made in picture-perfect catalogue heaven.

On the other hand, Rudd’s portrayal of the
quirky, zany George just doesn’t work here. Either Rudd is too talented a
comedic actor for this film, or the director failed to harness his wit in the
right direction. Somehow, Lisa is supposed to fall in love with his mumbling,
neurotic, quasi-stalking self. Equally ridiculous is Nicholson’s presence;
either this great actor has tax problems or he was drunk throughout the film,
because he adds absolutely none of his signature Nicholson charm to the film.
Instead, you get an awkward Nicholson who looks as uncomfortable
being in this film as this reviewer felt watching it. How Do You Know is best avoided
unless you have some drying paint to watch and no other DVDs are available.

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360 Tip

Bill Murray turned down the role that eventually went to Jack Nicholson. Bullet dodged.

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