How Do You Know is very much like a recipe that should work, but lacks a lightness and assured touch which is surprising considering the talent involved. It is labelled as a romcom, but it is neither one or the other despite the pedigree of its cast and the punch that James L. Brooks usually helps deliver on The Simpsons and in his previous films.
I began to watch How Do You Know having seen or heard nothing about it. I enjoy romantic comedies so felt quite excited about the prospect of watching a film with the Brooks connection, but it soon became clear that there was little humour to enjoy. Owen Wilson’s performance did lighten the mood a little, but overall this seemed like a vehicle that was turned down by Jennifer Aniston because it felt too much like Friends With Money and therefore another near miss. Even Witherspoon’s perkiness could not help pick up the pace or detract from the fact that the film is overlong, and did not stray from its formula nor inject any spark of wit or surprise to justify its running time or reward audiences for sticking with it.
Halfway through I caught myself wishing that it was written and directed by Woody Allen, as it seemed to be the kind of comedy it was aiming for and not quite reaching. The DVD is out on release now, so if you want to complete your Nicholson, Wilson or Witherspoon collections this film will certainly be worth buying. But it does feel as though this one will be available to buy in Blockbuster for three quid before long and be considered among the quirkier of the pre-eminent careers of those involved.
The perfunctory extras don’t add to the experience, and the blooper reel is often funnier than the film itself.
- Commentary with Filmmakers
- Select Scenes Commentary with James L. Brooks and Owen Wilson
- Deleted Scenes Commentary by James L. Brooks
- Blooper Reel
- Extra Innings