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How Do You Know (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 121 minutes

OK for children.

After his last effort, the debacle Spanglish (2004), three time Oscarģ-winner Writer-Director-Producer James Brooks has finally done himself proud with this romantic comedy.

Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) gets dumped from the U.S. baseball team and goes into a funk. But she finds herself pursued by Matty (Owen Wilson), a serial-womanizing major league pitcher who earns $14 million a year, and George (Paul Rudd), a corporate executive who has lost his position with his fatherí firm because he is the target of a federal investigation.

Backing them up in supporting roles are Jack Nicholson as Georgeís father, Charles, and Kathryn Hahn as Georgeís assistant, Annie. Their sparkling performances add immensely to the enjoyment of the film.

But, good as they are, the three leads make this something special. Witherspoon gives a perfect, Doris Day-type performance as the woman in the middle, but itís the comedic talents of Rudd and Wilson that turn this into a movie that stands with some of the better romcoms of history, like Pillow Talk (1959). Maybe itís not up to When Harry Met Sally (1989), but itís a lot better than Pretty Woman (1990). Rudd and Wilson are very funny and fine actors to boot. Wilson has been in a lot of horrible movies, too many to mention, but Iíve always enjoyed his performances. Rudd, too, has been in movies even worse than Wilsonís, like Anchorman (2004), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), and the truly deplorable I Love You, Man (2009). Like Wilson, he got more out of the scripts and directing than they deserved.

At long last both Wilson and Rudd get to work with a terrific script and the result is a thoroughly entertaining film, even if it is a half hour too long. I hope, now that they have been in a quality film, they will both pick their projects more carefully from now on. They are good enough that they can afford to be selective.

Finally, a bit of movie trivia. How do you know? According to Rudd, there was line in the film that didnít make the final cut that answered that question, ďYou are able to be more yourself than you ever thought possible when youíre in the company of this person.Ē According to Nicholson, however, the time you know is when you get a lawyer to draft a prenup.

December 15, 2010