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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 12:26 am

You Know, it’s not As Good as it Gets

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Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd star in How Do You Know.

It isn’t as if writer/director James L. Brooks hasn’t been doing anything since his last feature film in 2004 (the underwhelming Spanglish). He’s been watching over the continued development of The Simpsons and was one of the uncredited writers on its film adaptation. Be that as it may, you can tell from Brooks’ latest, How Do You Know?, a bit of rust has set in. While pleasant enough and ultimately engaging, the jokes don’t have the snap of Brooks’ Broadcast News nor are the characters fully drawn, as in his As Good as it Gets. That being said, Know is still head and shoulders above most romantic comedies made today, primarily because of its strong cast.

Owen Wilson
Two characters at personal crossroads collide and the prospect of their being able to help one another is slim. Star Olympic softball player Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) has just been cut from the 2012 team while George (Paul Rudd) had been told he’s about to be indicted on federal charges of fraud. Needless to say, their blind date together is a bit of a disaster. Time passes, they meet again but their circumstances have not improved as Lisa has moved in with Matty (Owen Wilson), a clueless pro baseball player with commitment problems, while George has come to suspect he knows who’s behind the charges he faces.

The dynamics that develop between the three principals are intriguing. If there is one Brooks hallmark that remains it’s that he’s able to give us likable characters we can relate to. There are no bad guys here, simply people trying to find their way through life with a modicum of happiness. Witherspoon, Rudd and Wilson are all quite good here, each having to navigate at times some awkwardly written moments, while Jack Nicholson punches things up whenever he appears as George’s father. Know will surely not be mentioned as a Brooks classic. But it’s a pleasant enough diversion that reminds us that as we stumble through life, it’s important to do as little damage to one another as we can.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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