How Do You Know movie poster
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How Do You Know movie poster

How Do You Know Movie Review

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A romantic comedy that unfathomably cost $120 million to make, How Do You Know was released in December, poised to the feel-good "it" movie of the holidays. Instead, it earned only $30 million domestically, making it one of the biggest flops of 2010.

How Do You Know stars Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson and plays out exactly how you'd expect a $120 million movie to be: glossy, mildly entertaining and way too full of itself. The movie is cute but isn't much fun. Cute won't turn a profit.

In the film, Witherspoon is Lisa, who has just been cut from the USA softball team. Though she has started a relationship with a Washington Nationals baseball player (Wilson), she becomes friends with equally down-on-his-luck businessman George (Rudd), who is facing an indictment for fraud. George is convinced that Lisa is the one, but Lisa isn't so sure.

You can pretty much see how the writing process progressed for this movie. Writer/director James L. Brooks started with a love triangle, added in a legal conflict with no positive outcome and then, just to spruce things up, made two of the characters professional athletes. Convinced that he had something entertaining and original (you know, because how many characters in movies are Nationals players?), he let the studio hire a bunch of overpaid actors. Action!

In fairness, How Do You Know isn't terrible. Witherspoon and Rudd have some legitimate chemistry with one another, even if they aren't onscreen together all that much. You do want them to get together at the end - that's important - and you feel for the situations the characters are facing.

But the picture gets so caught up in itself it forgets its purpose. Wilson is in the picture primarily to provide comic relief, and while funny at times his characters is more irritating than humorous. Nicholson's talent is completely wasted, which is even more exaggerated considering his character had the potential to be the most complex and interesting of the bunch.

How Do You Know could have been a charming romantic comedy, but it gets distracted by big Hollywood tactics and unnecessary characters. Witherspoon and Rudd make a good couple, but the movie itself offers no sparks.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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