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James L. Brooks
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson
Writing Credits:
James L. Brooks

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.

Box Office:
$120 million.
Opening Weekend
$7,484,696 on 2483 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 3/22/2011

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director James L. Brooks and Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski
• Scene-Specific Commentary with Writer/Director James L. Brooks and Actor Owen Wilson
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Blooper Reel
• “Extra Innings” Featurette
• “A Conversation with James L. Brooks and Hans Zimmer” Featurette
• Interactive Script Gallery
• “The George” with Optional Commentary


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


How Do You Know [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2022)

For a long stretch of time, James L. Brooks emerged every four to seven years to direct a new film. Best known for notable 80s flicks Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News - as well as his executive producer role on The Simpsons - Brooks came back in 2010 for How Do You Know.

This acted as Brooks’ first directorial effort since 2004’s Spanglish, itself Brooks’ only flick since 1997. Know appears to offer Brooks’ cinematic swan song, as he’s created nothing new since 2010.

Due to her age, softball player Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) gets cut from the US national team. This leaves her somewhat adrift, as softball’s all she’s ever known.

Somewhat against her better judgment, she launches a relationship with all-star MLB relief pitcher Matty Reynolds (Owen Wilson). He’s a serious womanizer, but she appreciates his honesty and gives the fling a try.

Earlier, Lisa’d heard from financial advisor George Madison (Paul Rudd) after a common friend (Teyonah Parris) gave her number to him as a potential set-up. However, he’s seriously involved with college professor Terry (Shelley Conn), so he calls her simply so she won’t wonder why he never contacted her.

That appears to be that, but George’s life soon changes in a radical manner. The Department of Justice subpoenas him as part of a security fraud investigation, and that hubbub leads Terry to dump him – or at least put their relationship on serious hold.

On the advice of his secretary, George decides to call Lisa again. They get together for dinner, an event that goes poorly – well, from Lisa’s perspective, at least. She thinks he’s a stressed-out nut, while he feels oddly smitten by her.

From Lisa’s view, that’s that, and she moves on. Lisa decides to see Matty again, and this gets serious enough for them to live together.

That situation collapses when Lisa bumps into George and brings him by the now-shared apartment for a chat. Matty thinks of the condo as “his place”, and that attitude prompts Lisa to hit the road. George takes this as his chance to connect with Lisa, and the movie officially becomes a love triangle.

A pretty dull love triangle at that, though one certainly can’t find fault with the cast. Indeed, if you wanted to find a virtually ideal set of actors for a film like this circa 2010, the triad of Witherspoon, Rudd and Wilson would qualify.

And all seem quite likable and charming here, with a particular nod toward Wilson. He’s easily stuck with the weakest character of the bunch, as Matty is little more than a one-dimensional horny jock.

While Wilson doesn’t really give him more depth than that, he manages to capitalize on the role’s comedic potential. The vast majority of the film’s laughs come from Wilson’s earnest take on the part.

Both Rudd and Witherspoon add consistently pleasant performances as well. We even get Jack Nicholson in a modest role as George’s father.

So what goes wrong? The script, for one.

Brooks doesn’t seem to edit himself well, so a simple love triangle ends up as a bloated semi-mess. Sure, the flick comes with plot complications, most of which connect to George’s legal issues.

However, at its heart, Know just delivers a simple love triangle. Why does Brooks need to muck it up with extraneous nonsense and force the movie to run too long?

I don’t know, but it doesn’t work. Granted, Brooks has had problems with excessive length in the past, and this was the case with the film’s most obvious relative: Broadcast News. That one also followed a love triangle, and it also needed editing.

Still, News was smart stuff compared to the limp Know. While I wasn’t wild about News, but it gave us a more involving take on its subject.

Know comes across as Brooks’ attempt to revisit the same territory but it lacks much real sense of purpose. It’s like Brooks figured he needed a hit and thought another flick ala News would do the trick.

This means the movie feels like Cruise Control Brooks. The dialogue lacks zip, and the story meanders. It doesn’t help that Know features an utterly inevitable ending. I won’t spill the beans, but if you can’t figure out which guy will win Lisa’s heart, you don’t understand how movies work.

Brooks also likes to devote five minutes to simple concepts that could be expressed much more efficiently. This means many tedious chats and even a preposterous hospital sequence that involves George’s secretary and her newborn son. Contrived and borderline pointless, this segment just slows down an already pokey plot.

A good cast can add a lot to a movie, but they can’t totally save it. No matter how hard the leads try, they can’t overcome the inherent drag found in How Do You Know. What could be a lively romantic comedy ends up as a chore to watch.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

How Do You Know appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this became an erratic presentation.

Sharpness became the most inconsistent element, as a surprising amount of softness materialized. While most of the film provided good delineation, too many shots came across as a tad ill-defined.

No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws also failed to create problems.

In terms of colors, Know tended to feature a mix of light amber and teal. Within those choices, the hues appeared pretty clear and concise.

Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation much of the time, though some shots felt murky. This felt like a “B-“ image, mainly due to the softness.

I thought that the DTS-HD MA 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.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Both showed similar auditory scope, but the Blu-ray’s lossless track felt warmer and clearer.

The usual format-related upgrades greeted the image, as it appeared better define and smoother than the DVD. Although the DVD worked well for the format and the BD came with issues, the latter still fared better.

The Blu-ray brings back the DVD’s extras and offers some exclusives. We open with an audio commentary from writer/director James L. Brooks and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, though 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, 55 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.

16 Deleted Scenes run a total of 29 minutes, 29 seconds. Note that this expands immensely on the DVD, as that disc only presented four of these 16 segments.

Only a clip that looks at young Lisa 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. Like I noted, the movie already runs too long and proceeds at too slow a pace, so extensions and small new bits don’t make a difference.

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. You can skip this commentary, as Brooks relates little useful information.

A Blooper Reel goes for one minute, 57 seconds. It shows a pretty standard compilation of goofs and giggles. Nothing extraordinary materializes.

Extra Innings lasts 15 minutes, two 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.

Next comes A Conversation with James L. Brooks and Hans Zimmer, a 25-minute, 59-second piece. The director and composer discuss their relationship and the score to Know. They combine for an engaging chat.

An Interactive Script Gallery uses still frames to allow the viewer to read the original screenplay. I don’t see anything “interactive” about it, but it nonetheless offers a good addition.

Finally we get The George, a one-minute, 36-second clip that shows how to make a drink featured in the film. Maybe that’ll interest fans.

We can view with or without commentary from Brooks, as he offers background for the beverage. He gives us brief basics but nothing more.

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 Blu-ray gives us adequate picture and audio along with an inconsistent but occasionally useful set of supplements. Though the actors make Know watchable, they can’t overcome its inherent dullness.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of HOW DO YOU KNOW

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