Written by / 10/25/2011 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

HOW DO YOU KNOW

title: HOW DO YOU KNOW
year: 2010
cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson
rating: *1/2

James L. Brooks is a hit or miss director. When he hits, he hits hard: TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, BROADCAST NEWS, and AS GOOD AS IT GETS are three of the best character-driven films balancing romantic comedy and searing melodrama. In other words, they’re brilliant soap operas. And he can turn out garbage like I’LL DO ANYTHING (although it’s a personal guilty pleasure), SPANGLISH, and this limp rom-com centering on Olympic softball player Reese Witherspoon and the two men in her life: Owen Wilson as a playboy big league baseball player and Paul Rudd as a sweet-natured tycoon’s son facing a prison sentence for his father’s wrongdoings. And guess who plays the dad? That’s right, James L. Brook’s stock actor Jack Nicholson in a throwaway role any old codger could have done. And although Witherspoon and Wilson are the crux of the trailer, the film’s bulk belongs to Rudd, who falls for the fallen blonde athlete… recently dropped from her team… thus beginning a life change i.e. he’s fallen in glorified lust. There’s a lot of talk about how athletic Witherspoon and Wilson are, yet we hardly see them in action – so it’s really just wordplay: they could have been accountants or McDonald’s employees for all it matters. The love triangle between the three leads is pointless, and the dialog seems as if spoken by people who had just enough to drink to be candidly (and unrealistically) honest with each other. Only Rudd, doing his usual genuine guy routine, turns in a somewhat involving performance as he’s torn between dad’s indiscretions and a possible future with Witherspoon, who herself has a dilemma: should she date a selfish jerk or a really terrific guy? You can only guess the outcome. And mind you, this drivel doesn’t end soon enough.
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