How Do You Know
James L. Brooks’ mealy-mouthed rom-com How Do You Know concerns two young professionals who meet as their old lives crumble. One is a kindhearted executive (Paul Rudd) facing federal indictment, and the other is an incredibly driven athlete (Reese Witherspoon) forced into retirement. It’s supposed to be about people so cut off from their true selves that they can only speak in self-help aphorisms, but despite some clever touches, Brooks keeps striking the same false notes over and over again. Witherspoon is supposed to be a pro softball player (and one who apparently makes a living at the sport without posing in Maxim!), even though she’s 4 feet tall and built like a sugar cookie. A bigger problem is Witherspoon’s lack of chemistry with anyone, not to mention a discombobulated story that leaves us utterly uninterested in the characters and their pastel neuroses.