How Do You Know appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the restrictions of SD-DVD, the film looked pretty good.
For the most part, sharpness looked nice. At times, wider shots tended to be a little soft, but those examples weren’t terribly intrusive. Much of the film appeared pretty accurate and concise. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minor. Source flaws also failed to create problems.
In terms of colors, Know tended to stay with a natural palette. Hues took on a light golden tone at times, but that stylistic choice didn’t overwhelm. Instead, the colors appeared pretty clear and concise. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.
I thought that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Know seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.
Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, like at a game or in a thunderstorm. However, most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.
Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.
A few extras fill out the disc. We open with an audio commentary from writer/director James L. Brooks and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski; producer Julie Ansell and co-editor Tracy Wadmore-Smith also join the chat around the movie’s halfway mark. All sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cinematography and visuals, cast, characters and performances, script/story issues, sets and locations, pacing and tone, editing and cut scenes, music, and other areas.
Even with four participants, this is Brooks’ baby, as he dominates. I’m not even sure Kaminski’s there for the whole track, as he says little along the way, and the women don’t contribute much when they enter.
Not that Brooks himself delivers a whole lot. Along the way, we do learn some interesting notes about the film, but quite a lot of dead air emerges, and the track tends to move slowly. Though the commentary isn’t a waste of time, it’s too pokey to be a good one, and it disappoints.
In addition, we get a scene-specific commentary from Brooks and actor Owen Wilson. Both sit together to chat for 32 minutes, 52 seconds about Wilson’s character, wardrobe and performance, some script areas, and other topics.
Even in an edited format, the track still drags and suffers from more than a few empty spots. I like Wilson’s insights, and his rapport with Brooks makes this an occasionally amusing piece. Nonetheless, like the prior full-length commentary, it doesn’t move especially well, so It can become a bit of a chore.
Four Deleted Scenes run a total of six minutes, 35 seconds. We find “Lisa’s Childhood” (2:46), “Stair Hopping” (1:03), “Anxiety Attack” (1:36) and “Annie & George” (1:10). The first shows Lisa’s relentless determination and the roots of her adult character. “Hopping” depicts Lisa’s training, while “Attack” extends part of the disastrous initial date between Lisa and George. Finally, “Annie” gives us a bit more between George and his secretary.
Of all four, only “Childhood” might’ve provided interesting content. It certainly sets up the character well and adds some good information, though I suspect it would’ve slowed down an already sluggish flick. As for the others, they’re minor additions without any particular value.
We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Brooks. He doesn’t tell us why he cut the sequences, and he barely lets us know anything about them at all. For instance, during “Childhood”, Brooks tells us the names of a couple actors and that’s it. You can skip this commentary, as Brooks relates virtually no useful information.
A Blooper Reel goes for one minute, 57 seconds. It shows a pretty standard compilation of goofs and giggles. Nothing extraordinary materializes.
Finally, a featurette entitled Extra Innings lasts 15 minutes, three seconds. It includes notes from Brooks, Wilson, producers Laurence Mark, Paula Weinstein and Julie Ansell, Philadelphia extras casting Diane Heery, and actors Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Lovieanne Jung, Amanda Freed, and Kathryn Hahn. “Innings” discusses the movie’s origins and development, research and training, cast and performances, story and characters, and Brooks’ impact on the production.
This is a general promotional featurette, but it’s not bad by those standards, especially when we hear from the softball players about those issues. Though you shouldn’t expect much from it, “Innings” is better than average for its genre.
Since James L. Brooks takes so long between movies, you’d think he’d have enough time to tighten his scripts. Alas, How Do You Know wastes an excellent cast as it delivers a slow, monotonous experience. The DVD gives us pretty good picture, adequate audio, and an inconsistent but occasionally useful set of supplements. Though the actors make Know watchable, they can’t overcome its inherent dullness.