Jan 12

13 Worst Films Of 2011: How Do You Know What Number 11 Will Be?

Do You See10 comments • 700 views

I like Owen Wilson, I really do. Its probably out of deference to liking his general charm that How Do You Know was pushed down to eleven, so I could be sure that whilst Owen Wilson has already turned up on this list twice, he doesn’t make the top ten. As far as it goes I like Albert Brooks too – Lost In America is one of my favourite films, James L. Brooks is alright- Broadcast News still holds up today (edit due to abject idiocy, see comments for details). Add to that a real appreciation of Reese Witherspoon and this film should not be in this list. The main problem is that the film posits a question, and so to answer said question Reese Witherspoon does pretty much this face all the way through the film. Its her characters “not sure” face.

With this cast, and James L.Books directing, number eleven promises an intelligent, revisit of romcom staples with an attractive, likeable cast. Does this plot description (thanks IMDB) look interesting?

“After being cut from the USA softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau.”

In the forgettably named “How Do You Know” Reese Witherspoon just about convinces as the softball player, and in the comparison between her success and Owen Wilson’s pro-baseball players success there is a really interesting bit of gender politics. Completely missed in some business about toothbrushes. Paul Rudd, America’s favourite underachieving schlub, is the third point of this triangle, who appears to be taking part in a completely different movie with Jack Nicholson. Now Jack isn’t just phoning it in here, there is a yoghurt pot an a piece of string for his evil corporate machinator who is about to sacrifice his own son. Think James Murdoch.

And I did think James Murdoch unfortunately. And there is no way I am going to root for James Murdoch in a romcom. Or for that matter a pampered, spoiled baseball star. So I didn’t want our heroine to end up with either of the options, and quite quickly got a little tired of Reese’s softball player too. Sure I can understand why she is disappointed with being cut from the USA team, but every player knows that is a possibility. The problems of an amateur / professional sports player are pretty outside my experience, and are not made vaguely interesting here. The worst thing about “How Do You Know” is that it squanders so many good ideas and turns it into one of the drabbest romcoms in years.


  1. 1
    Ewan on 30 Jan 2012 #

    I’m fairly sure Albert Brooks and James L. Brooks are entirely different people. Certainly they direct different films. You should be comparing this to Broadcast News and As Good as It Gets rather than Lost in America.

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 30 Jan 2012 #

    What an idiot. Post openly edited to make sense but also display my idiocy!

    It really does look like Reese is having a poo all through this film.

  3. 3

    Both the Brookses are involved in Broadcast News, in case this isn’t clear. And Lost in America needs to be in my S&S films: the CORE OF THE NEST EGG.

    Idiot Pete.

  4. 4
    swanstep on 30 Jan 2012 #

    That trailer is painful, usefully/accurately so if Pete’s review is on the right track. According to wiki, ‘the film suffered huge losses at the box office worldwide, grossing only 40 percent of its $120 million budget back.’ Good god, what the hell did they spend $120 million on? (You could make 10+ Elections or 8 Sideways, or probably every Lubitsch and every Sturges rom-com for that, adjusted for inflation.) How do You Know? sounds like a good case-study for an ‘everything that’s wrong with H/wood’ article. (Compare Witherspoon’s expression with the faces on the cover of recent dvds/Blu-rays for Lubitsch’s Design for Living (1933).)

  5. 5
    Mark M on 31 Jan 2012 #

    I’m sure her accountant doesn’t think so, but most of Witherspoon’s career as a grown-up has been a tremendous waste.

  6. 6

    Interesting-looking RW films I have not seen: Rendition

  7. 7
    Mark M on 31 Jan 2012 #

    Her upcoming projects look maybe a little more intriguing, a little less in the way of reactionary romcoms or Robert Pattinson*.

    *Who I may be being unfair too, as I have never actually seen any of his films.

  8. 8

    I have see two of his films: all I can say is, they are no Legally Blonde 2

  9. 9
    Pete Baran on 31 Jan 2012 #

    I saw Rendition. It was a little worthy. She did a lot of crying, and it was clear the film didn’t really approve of her having an Arabic husband in the first place. I did think her June Carter Cash was a spunky highlight in Walk The Line, but after seeing Walk Hard it’ll be hard to watch again.

  10. 10
    Mark M on 31 Jan 2012 #

    Oh, I thought she was terrific in Walk The Line (although, yes, you may well be right post-Walk Hard) – indeed, by some chalk the best thing about that film. But that’s a rare moment in second half of a career that is short on films that use her as well as Freeway, Election, Pleasantville and Cruel Intentions did.

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