How Do You Know?

Directed by James L. Brooks (Columbia/Tri-Star)

Reese Witherspoon stars in this bizarrely chaste romantic comedy (that cost $100 million!) as a professional baseball player past her prime. The movie has her waffling between playboy (speaking of primes passed) Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd, as if anyone with working eyes and ears would choose the former in any universe Wes Anderson didn’t create. To his credit, Wilson makes Matty likable despite his typical womanizing characteristics---a stock of toothbrushes, hoodies and sleepwear for his conquests---and to his discredit, Brooks pitches Rudd as whiny and nearly devoid of his trademark wit, stuck in a boring plot about wrongfully defrauding his company. (Witherspoon is as off-puttingly cold as ever.) Brooks wants to make a contemporary relationship film and a topical one about the financial crisis and winds up failing on both sides.

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