Saturday, November 26, 2022


December 17, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

There’s a lot of impressive talent on display in How Do You Know which returns James L. Brooks, famous for such movies as Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment and As Good as It Gets and the TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Simpsons, to his place behind the cameras again. It’s the first time that he’s been there since his 2004 dud Spanglish. This movie, which features Paul Rudd, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson is not likely to redeem him in the eyes of either the critics or the public. Clearly the film is a disappointment. “I expected this movie to be better,” Roger Ebert remarks in the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s sad to report that James L. Brooks — who virtually invented the smart modern romantic dramedy … is responsible for a mess like How Do You Know,” writes Lou Lumenick in the New York Post. Likewise Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal asks, “How could this sloppy, sluggish production have been written and directed by James L. Brooks?” And Liam Lacey begins his review in the Toronto Globe and Mail by remarking: “It’s been six years since the last James Brooks comedy, so we might have expected a little rust. But not this weathered thing.” The other reviews by the major critics are mostly just plain devastatingly bad. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times calls it “an airless, sometimes distressingly mirthless comedy.” Amy Biancolli writes similarly in the San Francisco Chronicle: “How Do You Know has a stale quality, an airlessness, that vacuums the spontaneity from even its better scenes.” The movie does receive a handful of positive notices. Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post says that it “succeeds as a culmination of moments that ring true and sweet.” Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer describes it as “enjoyable if uneven.” And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune concludes: “How Do You Know turns out to be quite good, and its strengths are a lot more interesting than its limitations.”