Film review: How Do You Know (2010), directed by James L Brooks
tl;dr: How come Ant-Man was a better romcom?* 😬
Lisa Jorgenson (Reese Witherspoon) is a career-minded softball player, but she’s worried she’s getting a little “too old”. She ends up dating the fun jock Matty Reynolds (Owen Wilson), a baseball pro at the height of his career. Meanwhile, George Madison (Paul Rudd) ends up phoning Lisa after nudges from a mutual friend, and as life turns into a mess for George, the two end up on a date, and spend the rest of the film maybe liking each other, and maybe George actually listens to her, as opposed to the self-centred and immature Matty, who clearly doesn’t.
This is supposed to be a romantic comedy. I love a romantic comedy. The problem with this is that it’s not a comedy, and romantic? Ehhh, not particularly, although Paul Rudd looking smitten now and then is trying hard to convince us otherwise.
I read a review saying it’s as if this film was written by an alien who’s heard of human relationships but doesn’t know how they work, and, frankly, thank you? Why is this film such a mess? It’s all over the place, like someone wrote a first draft and didn’t bother working on it afterwards. Kind of like my reviews (finger guns), except I do occasionally go back and work on them, and I’m not writing a film here, but rather writing notes about films so I can remember having watched them.
How Do You Know, so titled because the theme of the film is “how do you know you’re in love?”, has some good ideas but the execution is puzzling. Like someone wanted to make a romcom but doesn’t have a clue how romance or love – or, yes, relationships – work. They’ve heard it described and try to write something based on that, and it’s just unfathomable.
I like the actors in it. Jack Nicholson as George’s dad is true to form, Kathryn Hahn was fun as George’s (or his dad’s?) loyal secretary Annie. Even Tony Shalhoub pops up (as a psychiatrist). I like the premise of the film as well: sports star at the end of her career looking for that special someone.
But, umm … This film was disappointing, and with romcoms I set a pretty low bar. Two people who spend the film falling in love and get together by the end? I’m there for it, even if it’s not super engaging. If it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside when the credits roll, that’s job done. This? First of all, I’m sure romcoms are meant to be, y’know, funny. The only actually funny line in the film – by which I mean vaguely amusing, because it’s pretty crass? It’s in the trailer, so you could save yourself a couple of hours and watch that instead. This especially goes for me, as it turned out, because that line in the trailer is basically the extent of Domenick Lombardozzi’s appearance in this film. But I mean at least it’s a film genre I generally like?
But nah, I’m not in a hurry to re-watch this.
I’ll stretch to 2 out of 5 pre-prepared meals, because it was kind of sweet at least?
*”But Ant-Man wasn’t a romcom?” I KNOW, THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.