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HOW DO YOU KNOW

SYNOPSIS:
Lisa (Reece Witherspoon) is a professional softball player, who finds herself adrift when she is suddenly dumped from the team. Confused and looking for a direction, Lisa begins a fling with self-centred womanizer Matty (Owen Wilson), a major league baseball pitcher eager to have his ego stroked. Their relationship begins in earnest shortly after a disastrous blind date with George Madison (Paul Rudd), a serious and honest businessman who is mistakenly accused of fraud and who has a complicated relationship with his controlling father Charles (Jack Nicholson). Life become more and more complicated as Lisa and George find themselves thrown together at the worst possible time in their lives.

Review by Louise Keller:
There's a girl, two guys and several dilemmas in this overlong but occasionally appealing rom com in which it is the intangibles of the relationships that prove to be everything. Less intangible are the film's frustrations which begin with James Brooks' screenplay as it beckons us into a series of contrivances, which inevitably lessen the impact of its charismatic and excellent cast. The various worlds from which the characters come are a fake reality; as a consequence we intuitively become detached from their plight, despite the charms of Reece Witherspoon's Miss Gorgeous, Paul Rudd's decent Mr Corporate and Owen Wilson's goofy Mr Insensitive.

It all starts on the wrong foot when we are told, rather than see for ourselves, that Witherspoon's top athlete Lisa makes everyone better than they are. If she is such a talented part of the softball team, why is she excluded? And why is such a smart and attractive girl drawn to Wilson's Lothario Matty? Her rationale that 'insensitivity is what she needs now' is pure Hollywood fabrication in search of a laugh. Wilson is so good at these roles: he manages to be obnoxious and lovable simultaneously. That first blind date with Rudd's overly serious and polite George, who is in such a state of despair that Lisa suggests they eat their spaghetti in silence, is another sit-com idea. Jack Nicholson's master manipulator Charles ('cynicism is sanity') is unfortunately nothing but a caricature, although Nicholson is always entertaining to watch. Kathryn Hahn as Annie, the worrying pregnant secretary with a big heart has a few scene stealing moments, despite being over-directed.

There are some lovely ideas and a few laughs and it's credit to the central threesome that we care at all about them as they each figure out what they want and then go after it. If Brooks had kept it all short and sharp, the film might have had legs. Nonetheless, Witherspoon provides some shapely ones (legs, that is) and for a non-demanding audience, there are some escapist pleasures.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HOW DO YOU KNOW (M)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn, Mark Linn-Baker, Lenny Venito

PRODUCER: James L. Brooks, Laurence Mark, Julie Ansell

DIRECTOR: James L. Brooks

SCRIPT: James L. Brooks

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Janusz Kaminski

EDITOR: Richard Marks, Tracey Wadmore-Smith

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeannie Claudia Oppewall

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 27, 2011







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