How Do You Know (Blu-ray)
The romantic comedy genre has been missing quality candidates for quite sometime. Thankfully writer/director James L. Brooks (TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, AS GOOD AS IT GETS, SPANGLISH) hopped back into the driver’s seat and brought us HOW DO YOU KNOW, a wonderfully charming film about interestingly funny characters finding love in the midst of life-changing problems.
Two people, both having the worst days of their lives meet for the very first time. After being cut from the USA Olympic softball team, Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) finds herself on a blind first date with honest good natured George (Paul Rudd) who has recently been wrongfully indicted for fraud at his father’s business. Losing almost everything, George is a mess but becomes enamored with hope after meeting Lisa. However, she feels indifferent about the date and furthers her relationship with an overly positive narcissistic pro baseball player (Owen Wilson). His lavish apartment is stocked full of toothbrushes and pink sweat suits preventing his lady guests from doing the walk of shame in the morning wearing last night’s outfit. As he says, these are not signs of a womanizer but of a good host. These optimistic views are fueled by energy that makes him likable while being foolish. Both men love this woman who doesn’t seem to believe in the notion.
I thoroughly enjoyed HOW DO YOU KNOW and as time went on more moments continued to pop out to me enhancing its appeal. Full of these funny gold mine moments and easy inspirational quotes like, “We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work” or “Find out what you want and learn how to ask for help to get what you want,” I’m looking forward to my next viewing.
With perfectly delivered lines coupled with precise emotional reactions, the entire cast is top-notch. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and was consistently excited to further my knowledge of the story deepening my love for these characters. I never wanted it to end. I liked these people, all of these people. From George’s flawed overbearing father played commandingly by Jack Nicholson to the sweet doorman faithful at his post briefly chiming in on their lives, all of the supporting characters deliver just the right note. As George’s former but still loyal secretary, Katherine Hahn scores some of the biggest laughs with her pregnancy-fueled outbursts. One of which, after she has given birth and a loving yet hilarious reenactment of a marriage proposal takes place in one of the best-written scenes I’ve seen in a long time.
Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon light up the screen. Rudd is so wide-eyed excited to be near her it becomes infectious. Few people can walk the line of loveable leading man and silly physical comic the way Rudd does. Mixing cool and goof ball at the same time, Rudd creates a relatable hero who is easy to root for. Reese Witherspoon is magnetic as usual. Combining controlled strength and understandable confusion, always discovering or realizing when things are right or wrong.
Whether it be the forgettable title, the odd close-up shots or simply the timing of the release, HOW DO YOU KNOW lacked a certain magic that connected with audiences during its theatrical run. Hopefully the wrong will be righted with the Blu-ray release. This refreshing take on a romantic comedies is a joy to watch giving the audience genuine people without extreme villains or tired misunderstandings, ironically reminding us of the rom-coms of old if only for the rewatchability factor.
Video: (1080p High Definition 1.85:1) The picture is clean for a basic daily environment.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD MA) The sound is clear for this dialogue driven film.
Commentary with Filmmakers: Director James L. Brooks with minimal help from cinematographer Janusz Kaminiski, producer Julie Ansell and editor Tracey Wademore-Smith give an insightful yet breezy commentary that is an easy listen.
Select Scenes Commentary with James L. Brooks and Owen Wilson (32:55): These are basically only the scenes that Wilson is in. Sometimes they are very funny and sometimes they go on long silent spells.
Deleted Scenes (29:29): Sixteen scenes with optional commentary by James L. Brooks that are fun to watch.
Blooper Reel (1:57): Disappointingly not funny.
Extra Innings (15:02): Everybody discusses each other’s great acting abilities and their characters.
A Conversation with James L. Brooks and Hans Zimmer (25:59): The director and composer sit down and talk about creating the music and their work process together. A few interesting gems but overall pretty boring unless you are beginning to score films for a living.
Interactive Script Gallery: You can read the film’s original script by Academy Award winner James L. Brooks.
“The George” with Optional Commentary (1:36): If you want to try the amazing looking drink in the film, here is the recipe.