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How Do You Know

3.2 out of 5 stars 236 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From legendary director/writer James L. Brooks comes a humorous and romantic look at the “How Do You Know” question. When everything she’s ever known is suddenly taken from her, Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) begins a fling with Matty (Owen Wilson), a major league baseball player and self-centered ladies man. Before their relationship takes off, Lisa meets up with George (Paul Rudd) a straight-arrow businessman facing his own serious issues, both with his father (Jack Nicholson) and the law. Just when everything seems to be falling apart it doesn't.


Compared to previous James L. Brooks dramedies, like As Good As It Gets, How Do You Know feels slight, but it still marks an improvement over the ill-conceived Spanglish. The setup begins with a newly minted couple and a brand-new single. Lisa (Reese Witherspoon), a pro softball player, dates Matty (Owen Wilson), a major-league pitcher, who lives in the same Washington, D.C., high rise as financial exec Charles (Jack Nicholson, looking ill at ease), whose son and employee, George (Paul Rudd), gets the boot from his girlfriend after he loses his job. When George meets Lisa, who didn't make the team, sparks fly, but she's unavailable, so they get on with their lives. Hardly the brightest bulb, Matty raises Lisa's spirits with his goofy antics, so she moves in with him. Then George finds out he faces charges for tax fraud, even though he broke no laws. While his pregnant assistant, Annie (Crossing Jordan's Kathryn Hahn), supports him through the crisis, he can't stop thinking about the blonde from the elevator, so he tries to get to know Lisa better. Throughout the rest of this glossy entertainment, their friendship verges on romance, but Lisa stays with Matty, until Annie helps her to see George clearly for the first time. As love triangles go, Brooks isn't reinventing the wheel, making this underwritten affair one of his less inspired creations, but Witherspoon, Rudd, and Wilson are good company--even if the latter is essentially reprising his vacuous Zoolander character (just substitute baseball for modeling). --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

Commentary with Filmmakers
Select Scenes Commentary with James L. Brooks and Owen Wilson
Deleted Scenes Commentary by James L. Brooks
Blooper Reel
Extra Innings

Product Details

  • Actors: Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson
  • Directors: James L. Brooks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2011
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,604 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "How Do You Know" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My wife and I really enjoyed "How Do You Know." The script itself was slightly on the bland side, as others have noted, but the film itself is redeemed by some great performances and excellent direction and editing. For us, it generated consistent laughs and smiles throughout the film, as well as lots of undercurrents and multileveled themes to ponder after we left the theatre.

What really made the film work for me were the performances of the Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. The Director / Writer (James L. Brooks) spends lots of screen time doing closeups on the faces of these three performers, allowing us to see the interplay of complex emotions on their faces as they wrestle with the dilemmas they are confronting. This would not have worked unless Mr. Brooks was able to coax finely tuned and believable emotions out of these excellent actors; and he is superb at doing so.

The flip side of this is that it takes time to allow these emotions to play out, so the film seems slower paced than films that are more concerned with situational comedy (and perhaps then less concerned with exploring the emotional depths of relationships).

Combined with this are some really hysterical scenes. Owen Wilson has long been known as a great comedic sidekick, and that well-honed character he always seems to play - bumbling, shallow, narcissistic and clueless - plays well in this film. Yet, even his character plumbs emotional depths I've never seen from him in other films. Paul Rudd, who I am not as familiar with, also did a great job. Yet, what makes the film shine is Reese Witherspoon's performance. You really connect-with her character. The film ends predictably, and was foreshadowed from the very start.
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Format: DVD
Apparently it's a bad thing that "How Do You Know" takes the time to develop characters who have real wants and needs, who aren't afraid to be uncertain about things, let it's plot unfold naturally, let it's scenes linger and take their time; because "How Do You Know" was hated by critics and audiences a like. This baffles me. This wonderful picture from the great James L. Brooks does, for me at least (and apparently I am alone on this one), everything a great film should do. It engaged me emotionally and intellectually, I related to the characters and their problems, I found it to be human and funny and their struggles were timely. Brooks' film is an ode to those who are just off center of making their lives work and I found it next to irresistible. Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson are all terrific here, delivering witty, honest and well rounded performances. The film is nicely directed, beautifully shot and attentively written. In a year when films have to be all high concept and surreal images trump character and motivation (yes, I'm looking at you "Inception" and "Black Swan"), "How Do You Know" is a lovely breath of fresh air. I just can't fathom how people can dislike such an honest and moving picture, but apparently, it's very easy.

If you are a fan of James L. Brook's pictures or are someone who likes a good, natural, character study, I really recommend you check out "How Do You Know".
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The modern recipe for romantic comedies in Hollywood is all too familiar:

o Take one actress that female ticket buyers can relate to
o Add one actor funny enough that the guys won't mind paying to see
o Mix them into a situation where they can't stand each other
o Sprinkle in a quirky sidekick or two to keep things interesting
o Bake them in adversity for 90 minutes
o And by the closing credits the pair will be happily matched, your faith in love will be renewed and you'll leave feeling satisfied.

That recipe must still work for people because Hollywood keeps serving us these familiar dishes, but thankfully the movie, How Do You Know, strays from the formula and shows that there are movie makers out there willing to try something new.

Or should I say, "Something old?"

One of the cool things about this movie is that both my wife and I realized just as it ended that we felt like we had just finished watching a GOOD, old-fashioned Cary Grant movie.

There's nothing wrong with that, is there?

There was no potty humor to placate the immature, there were no skanky shots to appease the shallow... there were just honest, thoughtful adult characters trying to do right by themselves and others and stumbling a bit in the process, so I can see why this movie doesn't appeal to everyone.

In a world with seemingly increasing numbers of snide, jaded and critical people, not everyone has in their circle people who are genuinely selfless. If a moviegoer doesn't know people like the characters in this movie, it is easy to see how they wouldn't enjoy the film. How could they? These characters and their decisions would just seem implausible and ridiculous to them I'm sure.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
How Do You Know opened in late 2010 to atrocious reviews, arguably worse reactions from audiences, and went on to become a box-office bomb coming nowhere near recouping its $120 budget. This budget has been oft-discussed, as $50 million went for star salaries alone and you'd be hard-pressed to find the other $70 million onscreen. This is the sixth film to be written and directed by James L. Brooks, who works almost exclusively in romantic-comedy and writes some of the most charming, intelligent dialogue one would be pressed to find in the genre. Is it one of his best films? No. But a bad romantic-comedy by Brooks is far better than the average, mass-produced rom-com that hits the multiplex on what seems like a weekly basis. I have issues with the film like all viewers do, but the amount of criticism it's received is unfathomable to me; being a romantic-comedy, it really is better than 90% of the dreck that's released in this genre.

Reese Witherspoon is Lisa, a 31-year-old softball player who is adored by her teammates but sees her career coming to a halt because of her age. Trying to start a new phase in her life, she begins dating Matty Reynolds (Owen Wilson), a clueless, womanizing pro-baseball player whose insensitivity she finds oddly charming. George Madison (Paul Rudd) is a young executive who discovers that he's the target of a federal investigation and is informed by his father Charles (Jack Nicholson) that he could be facing a possible indictment. As this is a romantic-comedy, you know that George meets Lisa at this unique crossroad in their lives and falls for her, leaving her torn between Matty and George. Kathryn Hahn co-stars as George's pregnant assistant Annie, who is quite the scene-stealer among these big marquee names.
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