Film: As bad as it gets

 
 

Title: How Do You Know
Director: James L Brooks
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson
Release Date: Out now

The romantic-comedy genre is often one scoffed at by your typical snooty film critic, however with the right ingredients, the genre can prove to be extremely rewarding for any audience. James L. Brooks’s As Good As It Gets, for example, is the perfect paradigm for romcom gone right, striking the ideal balance between uplifting and quirky it manages to tick all the boxes.

How Do You Know is Brooks’ latest stab at the romcom genre, and I emphasis the word stab. Featuring an all-star cast that includes his old faithful Jack Nicholson, the movie centres around Lisa, Reese Witherspoon, an attractive thirty-something who finds herself without direction after being dropped from the American women’s softball team.

While dating wealthy baseball star Matty (Owen Wilson), Witherspoon meets George (Paul Rudd) a seemingly honest businessman who is being wrongfully accused for fraud. What follows are a series of predictable dilemmas which ultimately lead Witherspoon to question how you truly know when you have found the right person. It would be an insult to both reader and writer to waste time explaining how the plot pans out as the movie strays not one iota from its calculable blueprint.

While the stellar cast should add something to the movie, the shallow characters provide very little room for any definite display of talent. Wilson, as the main comedic source of the film, plays the same role he always does, while even Witherspoon, an actress I am quick to compliment and admire, fails to inject the movie with any significant charm.

How Do You Know is not an intellectual heavyweight which ponders any deep or psychological meaning, nor does it attempt to be. However, it fails to grasp the most essential ingredient of a romantic comedy – likeable characters. While Lisa, Matty, and George don’t incite any great aversion in the audience, they are simply too undeveloped to form any sort of connection with.

When done correctly, a romantic comedy can provide ninety minutes of memorable and uplifting light relief. The genre has given us gems of movies, and has proven recently, in Love & Other Drugs, that it can be a reputable and acclaimed form of film.

With its massive earning potential the romcom has been warmly embraced by Hollywood and is sure to be a pervasive cinematic feature for years to come. Unfortunately, this means for both critic and audience a continuation of mediocre films like How Do You Know, which do not horrify or delight but simply leave the viewer utterly unaffected.

In a Nutshell: Maybe a two for €12 DVD purchase

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