Despite some good casting, this rom-com suffers from its charmless lead, Paul Rudd.
How Do You Know
How Do You Know
Director: James L Brooks
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd
Whitney Houston sang "How will I know, if he really loves me" and in this romantic comedy from the Terms of Endearment director James L Brooks, it's the question that faces athlete Lisa (Witherspoon) soon after she gets cut from the US national softball team. It's actually her beau, the baseball star Matty (Wilson), who posits what he thinks is the answer during one of the film's few mildly amusing scenes, but his deductions are undermined when Lisa takes a fancy to the diffident businessman George (Rudd). The success of the film largely rests on how convincing you find Paul Rudd as a romantic lead. Personally, it amazes me that he continues to be cast in such roles as his lack of both charm and classic good looks usually ends up being a plausibility issue, and that's the case here. It's so much easier to root for the charismatic cad Matty than the rich self-deprecating worry-wart George, and when a rom-com doesn't have you siding with the principal character, it's always going to run into a quagmire. Not even a jacked-up cameo from Nicholson, who is a Brooks favourite having appeared in As Good as It Gets and Broadcast News, can liven up affairs. Nicholson plays George's father Charles, a poor parent, fast talker and possible white-collar criminal. The family business is under investigation by the federal prosecutors and George, through no fault of his own, is facing jail time. Somehow Brooks believes that the more of a loser George becomes, the more attractive he becomes. He's wrong.