Movie Review: How Do You Know
Warning: this review contains spoilers!
George (Paul Rudd) is an honest corporate businessman – what he actually does is not given much attention – who is being investigated for alleged wrongdoings while working for his father’s (Jack Nicholson) company. Lisa (Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon) is the star of the USA softball team who is cut by the new coach in favor a young up-and-comer. The movie is about how the two deal with these shocks in their lives, eventually (it seems to take forever) ending up together.
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Paul Rudd the Star, Owen Wilson Lovable Despite Himself
I admit, I have a personal bias here. I can’t stand Owen Wilson. I find his faux-charm to be irritable in the extreme, and I cannot understand his stubborn refusal to trim that mop. To his credit though, he does a fine job playing Matty, the ex-boyfriend. In most romantic comedies, the role of the ex-boyfriend is one that the audience is supposed to hate. If this was writer/director James L. Brooks’ intention, then he fails miserably. If, however, Brooks intends for us to like and sympathize with Matty, even if we take George’s side, then he succeeds.
Matty enjoys what some would call a free lifestyle, of women, parties, and widescreen TVs. Lisa is attracted to him because of his carefree lifestyle, but also because of his pride in it. He makes no apologies for it. And while he does fall for more than just Lisa’s body, he cannot seem to fathom what it takes to make a commitment solid. This is where he ultimately fails.
In this movie, Paul Rudd is his usual, zany self. In fact, as the movie goes on (and on), he gets stranger and stranger. Rudd is given a lot of freedom to be himself in this role, and it suits him well. But even he can’t make this movie interesting, when the plot seems to conspire against him. You would think that the one-two combo of him and the legendary Jack Nicholson would save this movie, but sadly Nicholson doesn’t offer much more than we’ve come to expect of him – which is great entertainment, yes, but essentially he’s playing himself.
How Do You Know…When You’ve Had Enough?
The movie starts out promisingly enough, with Rudd, Witherspoon, Wilson and Nicholson all displaying their strengths, and laughs certainly do ensue. There is an awkwardness about Rudd which makes him lovable, while Witherspoon’s never-give-up attitude ensures that the viewer doesn’t dismiss her as the weak blonde falling into the arms of some man. But eventually you feel like the movie should end, and then… it doesn’t. It drags on far longer than it should, and that really is its downfall. There’s also a certain amoral aspect to it, as Rudd far too easily sends his father to jail for life, all in the name of so-called love – or an infatuation with some woman he hardly knows. Watch the movie at 123 Movies for free.
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Paul Rudd is Paul Rudd, and that is no bad thing. Owen Wilson also delivers a fine performance, but these two cannot save a movie that tries too hard to do too many things, and as a result delivers very little.
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