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Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Disc/Transfer Specifications: 1080p High Definition 1.85:1; Region 1 (U.S.) Release
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: James L. Brooks
Starring Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd


PLOT ANALYSIS:


Here we are again. Another sappy, woman-pleasing title to be utilized as a revenge mechanism towards you for the six thousand times she had to put up with your repeat viewings of The Dark Knight or Gladiator. Let’s skip to the best parts of this borefest quickly – the newly married Reese Witherspoon looking oh-so-pretty in little designer sundresses...and…wait. That’s it. For good measure, we have the normally annoying and teetering-on-unbearable Owen Wilson doing his nasally self here, his crushed nose proving more unwatchable than ever (and I don’t get how chicks storm this guy and label him as anything beyond severely ugly), the tolerable Paul Rudd (who is becoming more entertaining during his drunken character sequences in all his films than anything else) and a oddly-timed Jack Nicholson, who at every turn in How Do You Know looks like a burned-out Jack Napier aka The Joker, what with his turned up creepy eyebrows and foreboding gravel voice. After a half hour of running time, I felt like this film was running for six hours.

With none other than legendary Hans Zimmer behind the band for the score, How Do You Know is the brainchild of James L. Brooks, but while the genre decoding suggests – or, more likely, rams down our throats – “comedy,” I didn’t find anything remotely funny here, save for some Nicholson vulgarity burst moments. Do they just not know how to make this class of picture anymore? You’re better off saving your money for a rental or a buy of the third piece in the Fockers trilogy, Little Fockers, which just came out on home video and which I am going to purchase at a later time, if just to complete my collection of the “series.” Getting back on point, Witherspoon plays Lisa, a star softball player for the United States women’s Olympic team, who is suddenly cut from the lineup roster and which precedes a sandstorm of bad luck in her life. She’s dating, of course, pro baseball star Matty (Owen Wilson) who is rockin’ the good life with a successful Washington baseball team, women crawling from every orifice and a sleek condo that anyone would covet. In a running parallel, Paul Rudd plays George, the resident offbeat working in his father’s law firm and who is given Lisa’s phone number by a mutual friend on Witherspoon’s team for the purposes of a blind date. Lisa blows him off, telling him she’s already dating someone, but as fate would have it, the two of them end up having dinner and a kind of weird triangle thing forms in which George falls for Lisa, while Lisa still loves Matty and his lifestyle but can’t resist the dorky ways George has…and, oh, forget it. Most of the running time is spent observing Witherspoon’s annoying character breaking up with the self-involved Matty, only to run into George’s arms for consolation, but then only to return to Matty, moving back in with him to fight with him yet again, and in the middle is Nicholson’s character – we learn that his son George is being indicted due to some kind of scam Nicholson and the firm cooked up, and Nicholson breaks the even worse news to him: If he gives his son up to the authorities, he will most likely not face any charges. But if he admits to it…

I didn’t see the appeal in this film. Somewhere, there is supposed to be some underlying theme suggesting a moral code; the characters walk around, half drunk half the time, babbling about seeing the righteous ways in people and other such human sacrifice nonsense, and I suppose the final clichéd approach of Witherspoon’s character falling for Rudd’s “good guy” character is gag inducing and ties up some kind of loose ends, but How Do You Know seemed very irrelevant and vague to me. Nicholson storms through his performance as Rudd’s cutthroat lawyer father with an indifference that bordered on disturbing, and delivers his lines as if he was just awoken from a 16-hour hangover; no one appears at the top of their game here, and I still don’t understand what the point of it all was. As I said, the majority of the (way too long) two hour running time is spent witnessing Witherspoon’s Lisa character bounce back and forth like some infant or ping pong ball between Wilson’s character’s condo and her own apartment, or between his place and Rudd’s, as we watch her ridiculously annoying indecision about which of these guys she wants to finally go beyond a one night stand with…forget it.

OSAGE'S VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?

If there was anything to remotely recommend How Do You Know even as a rental, it would be the video transfer of the Blu-ray – wow, was this bordering on reference level. Every character’s facial pore is up close and in your face, with resounding, resolute detail that just doesn’t let up, notably on close-ups. Colors are a bit cartoonish on this 1.85:1 1080p transfer, with eye-searing and popping intensity, but that just makes all the more eye candy to watch Witherspoon parade around in her short, colorful dresses in. The sense of dimension and depth was impressive, notably in outdoor, brightly-lit sequences, but the entire transfer looked great; there were moments – or one in particular – that I noticed which exhibited some noisy dithering and swarm, such as a camera flyover during a fast panning over-water sequence that produced a grainy mess, but they were brief.

Due to the overscan of my rear projection display, the 1.85:1 transfer from Columbia/Sony (who is still insistent in dropping their nauseating product placement in their films every spot they can, a la phones and computers) filled my screen without letterboxing.

OSAGE'S AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?

The 5.1 Master Audio track was a dead and lifeless as the film, anchored strictly to the center speaker for most of the running time and when there was rare, occasional bleed, only the left and right main channels received information (for, example, support in Zimmer’s score); I did note a rainstorm sequence which threw some ambient atmospheric effects into the back channels, but from start to finish, this was a weak, emotionless mix, and I suppose the best I can say is that it delivered the dialogue clear enough.

SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS:

Didn’t I convince you by now?
 
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