HOW DO YOU KNOW? (2010)

Written & Directed By: James L. Brooks 
Cinematography By: Janusz Kaminski 
Editor: Richard Marks & Tracey Wadmore-Smith 
 
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Mark Linn Baker, Dominick Lombardozzi, Tony Shalhoub, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Price, Lenny Venito, Tara Subkoff


Star softball player, Lisa, has just been cut from the national team; Scholarly businessman, George, has just been indicted from his father’s company. With everything that they know in their lives taken from them, Lisa and George attempt to find romance. Lisa’s potential boyfriend, Matty, however, is as clueless and perpetually single as they come, and George’s girlfriend just dumped him. A chance hook-up through mutual friends, Lisa and George may be able to form a friendship or more, that can help them climb out of the piles of lemons that life has handed to them.



 I think this is a good film, but though it was made recently it feels like a film out of place. If this film had been made in the 1950s to 1980’s I think the film would still be seen as lighthearted and as fluff but as a penetrating piece of fluff. 


As it does well by exploring the issues and mindsets of the characters. It’s just that the film feels so breezy, Laidback, and easy-going. Which is also how the performances go in the film. That there never truly feels like there is anything at stake there is conflict but the conflict is not that vital so the stakes are very low. 


Which makes the audience feel relaxed and like there is nothing worth paying too much attention to. The film is the happiest that James L. Brooks has made. His films are usually romantic but also paint a more cynical look at love and romance and the characters involved in them. They usually have a certain bite and are quotable. Here this film feels like it runs away from its usual trademarks and is just trying to make a crowd-pleaser. 

It feels like a lightweight Jerry Maguire. Where it is just as romantic with great odes to loves spoken by the characters. It just feels more false than truthful. The cast is enjoyable, Though felt Resse Witherspoon never had the proper chemistry with any of her love interests. Owen Wilson even seemed out of place in this film. I guess he felt goofier than real in the film. 

Jack Nicholson is here more as a supporting character that was a last-minute favor to the director as Bill Murray was supposed to play the role but dropped out at the last minute. He does good work but his role feels like an afterthought and like he is just there. Will admit this is one of the most strangely cast films I have ever seen. It almost seemed like the cast names were picked out of a bad or if the roles were offered to other bigger names and these were just the first to say yes as they went down the list. 

 The film has all the ingredients to make a truly good film, but the ingredients are mixed not to the right amounts so that while it has a unique taste it doesn’t come out the recipe is supposed to come out. I really wanted this film to be better but even when I saw the previews knew it didn’t look like the type of film I wanted to see. Even though I love most James L. Brooks films. This is the first one when I saw the trailer I really had little interest in the film. So much so that I actually avoided it in theaters. 

Which is a shame, not that I think I would have enjoyed it if I had seen it there. The film is very colorful and it is nice to see actors like Mark Linn baker have roles on the big screen again. The film feels closer to a theatrical stage play that is more expressive with locations than a Motion picture. The film just feels more focused on character and dialogue than most modern films. Which is supposed to be a good thing. It just feels like the cast was not up to the task to really sell the material and the Situations could have felt more vital than how they are presented. 

 The budget for the film was $120 million. Which while the film looks good doesn’t look like it cost that much so I am guessing a good chunk went to salaries. The film only made $30 million worldwide. The film isn’t horrible. I just can see what it strives to be and unfortunately falls short of.  

GRADE: C

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