Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Romcom Review "How Do You Know"
"How Do You Know" is not a great movie, not even a great romcom -- for one thing, Owen Wilson is in it. (What a talentless nudnik he is; he's also the reason I haven't seen and may never see Woody Allen's new movie "Midnight in Paris" even though it's about my favorite era -- the 20's -- and Ernest, F. Scott and Zelda are in it. But OW plays a writer in it and I'm sure they'd throw me out of the theater for booing and jeering such heinous miscasting.) And Jack Nicholson really hams it up here, leaving no scenery unchewed. Not to mention the fact that it's obvious from the very beginning where we're going, not only who the heroine will choose but who the real bad guy is behind our hero's misfortunes.
That being said, I really liked it. Saving graces include Reese Witherspoon -- who makes every movie she is 800 per cent better than it would have been without her -- and a baseball/softball backdrop. Paul Rudd's character took a while to grow on me -- he seemed a little self-absorbed, morose and insensitive at first -- but when he did I was really pulling for the guy. My wife's question when I tell her about a movie I liked is "Did you squall?" and the answer here is yes, twice. Once, when the B couple (Kathryn Hahn and Lenny Venito) got together at the hospital, that was really well done. In fact, I think it took coaching them into re-enacting it after Rudd forgets to record it that teaches our hero how to do what psychiatrist Tony Shalhoub says is the secret to happiness -- "Finding out what you want and learning how to ask for it."
(Who says romcoms aren't educational?)
I realized while I was watching this movie why I love this film genre so much. People in romantic comedies think and behave the way I think people should -- but don't -- in real life. Rudd has a choice he can either go to jail for three years for something he didn't do or he can let his no-good father, for whom he still feels an inexplicable affection go to jail for "twenty-five years to death". And he makes his decision based on whether or not he feels he has a shot with Reese Witherspoon after he gives her a jar of Play-Doh and his impassioned speech. If she doesn't throw him out on his ear, it's up the river Dad time. If she does he might as well go to jail, he's going to be miserable wherever he is anyway. That makes sense to me.
And Reese eventually chooses this unemployed, living over a bakery, under indictment schlub over a pro baseball player making 14 million dollars a year. True the ball player is a womanizer and a narcissist, and he looks like Owen Wilson but most women in the real world would stick with him. But not in romcom world, and that's why I like visiting there so often.