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How Do You Know is so-so 

Physical comedy and cute dialogue shed light on a dim plot.

James L. Brooks has a knack for crafting lines of dialogue that are simultaneously funny and touching, the kind that make you wish you could distill your own thoughts so economically. Reese Witherspoon plays a softball star who, reeling after getting cut from the US Olympic team, takes up with Owen Wilson’s dimwitted major leaguer. This leaves Paul Rudd’s sincere corporate suit in a prison of unrequited love at the same time as he and his father (Jack Nicholson) face real prison time for securities fraud. Rudd delivers some brilliant physical comedy---his drunken steak-grilling is a genius moment---and tiny Witherspoon’s surprisingly believable as a tough ex-athlete. Brooks’ bon mots are the real attraction, propping up a movie that fails almost completely in the plot department.

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