How Do You Know

In this love triangle comedy, a white collar executive and professional baseball player are each vying for the affections of the same woman.
James L. Brooks
Reese WitherspoonOwen WilsonPaul Rudd
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Jack Nicholson
James L. BrooksPaula WeinsteinLaurence MarkJulie Ansell
Columbia Pictures
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.2 out of 5 stars

1605 global ratings

  1. 56% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 19% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 14% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

SannaReviewed in the United States on November 5, 2017
2.0 out of 5 stars
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There is a reason I had never heard of this movie when it first came out. I really like Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd, and would usually see a movie starring them in the theater. Luckily for me, I didn't see this one till years later on DVD. My two stars came from two things: 1: I like the cast 2: I like the fact that the comedy didn't rely on vulgarities and slapstick to get laughs. That's also the end of my positivity when it comes to this film. It trucked along at turtle speed. This whole movie could have been cut in half, and we would still have been able to see all the storylines unfold. There was too much back and forth in the decision-making of the lead. Lots of "should I, or shouldn't I?" So much so, that eventually you just want her to make A decision, ANY decision, it doesn't even matter anymore which one, but for the love..just make one. The dialogue was slow also. I am going to paraphrase a part of the dialogue that took place, so that you kind of get an idea why it dragged. Sample conversation between Reese's character and Paul Rudd's character: (again: this is not verbatim) Paul: "Do you want to come up?" Reese: "Oh I don't know, it's late, should I come up?" Paul: "Sure, come'on up it's fine". Reese: "ok, I guess I'll come up." Then she rings his doorbell, he opens the door, and she walks off again saying "you know what, I shouldn't have come up." But then finally ends up coming in. Scenes like that are abundant and makes the movie a lot longer and frankly a lot more boring than it needed to be.
23 people found this helpful
Karen D.Reviewed in the United States on January 15, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
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"How Do You Know" is a delightful romantic-comedy!!! (It's nice to learn they're still being made!) It bears a very slight resemblance to "Sweet Home Alabama" in that there does end up being a love triangle & that's where the similarity ends, because these characters are much more 3-dimensional, with some difficult situations they are caught in the midst of upon meeting and forming relationships. And, "love triangle" sounds more simplistic than the film actually is. (I'm giving a very general "overview" review, since I don't want to give any of this wonderful movie away. You can always watch the trailer at rotten tomatoes website. That's how I happened upon it.)

Excellent writing by James L. Brooks, casting is superb, with Reese Witherspoon at the fore, playing Lisa, Paul Rudd as George (how can anyone be that handsome?!) & Owen Wilson is Matty (the only 1 of the 3 who isn't in the midst of a personal crisis & is unabashedly self-involved!) Owen plays this character wonderfully! The entire cast play their characters with lots of humor overlying any pathos, so the movie has a number of "laugh-out-loud" moments. The entire supporting cast give outstanding performances as well, including Jack Nicholson.

It was enjoyable to find that Hollywood casting agents went with talented actors other than Leslie Mann, Jason Bateman & Jennifer Aniston, who seem to be cornering these roles, of late. I enjoy them too, but it's nice to see other actors in a romantic comedy who are equally capable & adept. While Owen Wilson & Paul Rudd are both leading mean in this film, watching Paul Rudd, who is so handsome & has such great comedic timing, I'm reminded of far, far earlier romantic-comedies starring Doris Day with either Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, or James Garner. When the side-kick wasn't Tony Randall, it was a very handsome actor, Gig Young, who also had the comedy down pat, too. Paul Rudd nails this!!

I highly recommend "How Do You Know" for anyone who enjoys a good romantic-comedy, especially with completely "fleshed out" characters...characters who are imperfect and working to come to terms with each of their own personal issues & setbacks, while learning just what it takes to make a sustaining relationship...friendship, understanding, empathy, emotional depth & maturity, love & being able to see the humor & laugh at yourself! Excellent Movie & Performances!!
19 people found this helpful
S. VecchioReviewed in the United States on January 27, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Like sharing an exquisite dessert........
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If this movie did not end up coming out of the oven as a most perfect mix of romance, comedy, and light drama, then something would have had to gone terribly wrong.
With credits like, "As Good as it Gets," "Broadcast News," "Spanglish," and one of the most complex, beautiful, love stories ever made, "Terms of Endearment" Director James Brooks, does not need to use the gimmicks, frantic chases to the airport when the cad realizes he's fallen in love, no brainless sidekicks, or breaking into a dance number for some inexplicable reason.
Brooks uses excellent actors, and although the love triangle may be a familiar story line, its, the quality of the script, the subtle, intricies of the characters and actors who can come together as an ensemble,and also shine on their own without becoming caricatures or cliches.
Reese Witherspoon was perfect as the unexpected love interest of both Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson. She wasnt a delicate little flower, and had the kind of solidness that you would swear Will Rogers was her grandpa........most of the time. Even Owen Wilson, who had being the playboy athlete down to a science, is not a cad. He's very likeable and sweet. It depicts characters making believable transitions and a story that's funny and refreshingly sweet, with just enough drama to make it a movie that's not in your face, but not saccharin at all. It was just what I needed. Kathryn Hahn, as always a delight, and what is there to say about Jack that hasn't been said. Loved it . I think I'll watch it again.
6 people found this helpful
CullenReviewed in the United States on March 8, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another HOME RUN for Gidge!!!!
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I cried. I laughed. I cried some more. Easily my favorite movie of all time. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, trying to piece together what writer/director James L. Brooks was trying to convey in his opus. You remember the golden age of the Simpsons (which he also worked on), this is like that times a trillion!!!!!!!!! Every scene subverts your expectations. Whenever I thought one was going to end, they managed to pack in more brilliantly paced character building moments. This is a simple story, you could even argue that it could have been 30 minutes long! But instead they decided to risk it all, and flesh out every single detail. I showed this to my wife and her boyfriend, and they both had a blast! They loved it so much, they spent the rest of the night privately gushing about it. They seemed to have a wonderful time! I really relate to Paul Rudd's character. In my opnion, Gidge is one of his break out roles. I feel like he's lost his way since this indie darling released. You can tell this was a low budget passion project, from a man with a vision. The blossoming relationship that begins between Paul and Reese 30 minutes into this cinematic masterpiece truly sold me on their quirky and unique relationship. I just love how down to earth they were, going to a five star italian restaurant and ordering authentic italian cuisine. Whenever I go out to eat with my wife, we too eat in silence. It felt like this movie was speaking directly too me. I really feel like Owen Wilson also played the role of his career, pulling off a brilliant yet subtle villain who comes and goes. I love the amazing use of reincorporation! There are constant call backs that are used to really bring the themes to life. Every time I saw a sony ericson or an elevator or a bus, I clapped! The nonconvential way that Paul and Lisa's relationship develops was quite interesting. I found myself consistently wondering what was happening and where it was going. While I was confused at first, Craig helped me piece it together and said he'd watch it again with me. With each new viewing, I picked up more. There are so many subtle details. When the Gidgemeister touched her knee, and awkwardly brought it up (leading to a solid 10 second pause) I loled! It reminds me of my own relationship. Hanz Zimmer's best score to date! Each song is memorable, and I genuinely wish I could buy this somewhere. You can tell he put his heart into it. The music really route for Gidge's struggle. This movie was unfortunately defeated and crushed when it came out in theaters. I wish this did more, because a sequel is quite literally all I crave. What happened with Gidge and Reese? Do they stay together? Do she get back with boyfriend? We knew she got one, but then she got another. Sorry to spoil the ending, but I'm sure this is being read by other fellow Gidge-heads out there (lol! that's what I call us). I love the subversive nature of the conclusion. My heart was racing when the ultimatum was revealed with JAck KNicolson's character. Deciding to go to jail for his son for the rest of his pathetic, horrible, cringe inducing life, just because his son found true love was the character redemption arc that this criminal bastard didn't deserve. But you know what? That was just one of many ways that the film goes out of its way to humanize it's antagonists. You don't expect it to end how it does, but it does. I'm blown away at the artistic choice to end the film in such a minimalistic way. We don't know how their story necessarily ends (besides that rat bastard Jack rotting in Jail :)), but isn't that just how life works? Owen Wilson has learned a strong lesson, and I hope he does better in the future. One of my favorite actors. Honestly I'm sure the cast and crew made life long bonds with each other (just like Lisa and her team!). I learned that sometimes its okay to be a bit impotent. Sorry that I spent so long writing this review. I just had so much to say. You can't understand just how important this movie was to me! I wish I could talk more about it! Maybe even make a documentary about my experiences with this film. I know that seems ridiculous, but my life has be essentially changed by this. Gotta go now, Craig wants me to take out the trash.
3 people found this helpful
Angelia DerrickReviewed in the United States on July 20, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
What happens when you meet your love on the worst day of your life?
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I think this is a sweet movie with a really interesting question: What happens when you meet your love on the worst day of your life? Our two leads are currently going through the worst times in their life, Lisa, has been cut from the Olympic softball team, and George, is facing federal charges for something that though he didn't do he would be found responsible for because he trusted the wrong person, his father (Jack Nicholson). Reese and Paul do a charming and sensitive job showing each character's devastation as everything they know is going to be changed without them choosing the change. How do you handle a bad life change forced on you in those first few days? They have a blind date on the day Lisa is cut from the team and both snipe at each other before agreeing to be completely silent. George quickly becomes infatuated with Lisa and her allowing him to just be in the moment. Lisa finds him silly, but not too interested at first as she is in a casual relationship with another ball player (Owen Wilson) who has decided she is the one to stop being a player (romantic player) with and settle down. I love how Lisa is constantly analyzing everything as she is basically trying to keep a float as her number one love (softball) is taken away from her. I heavily relate to her self-analysis and trying to make the best of a situation that you know isn't right for you.
WReviewed in the United States on April 7, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Cute and fun romantic comedy
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I really enjoyed this awkward, but very likable romantic comedy. Some complain that Reese is indecisive and the plot is slow-moving; however, they are missing a huge part of the plot. Both characters have very successful, long-term careers that are suddenly taken away and both of their lives come to a halt. They are not at a cross-roads in their lives, but are in limbo. As they struggle to figure out their futures, they find each other. I love when Paul's character makes the play-doh reference, "We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work". This is so true sometimes.
The movie remains light and funny throughout, both actors are their usual very likable selves, and Owen Wilson plays a funny self-absorbed professional athlete. Overall, very enjoyable.
3 people found this helpful
Gabrielle MeyerReviewed in the United States on January 30, 2017
2.0 out of 5 stars
Disappointed I Wasted Time and Money on this Film
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Although I enjoy all the actors in this movie (minus Jack Nicholson), I was disappointed in the plot and character development. Reese Witherspoon's character has no goals or motivations in this story--none. It was hard to root for her or even care what happened to her. Paul Rudd's character is also aimless and his story goals are elusive. Half the time, he didn't seem to be doing anything, or caring about anything. The characters do not move the plot forward--they sit back and wait for things to happen, which makes for slow pacing and unsympathetic characters. Owen Wilson's character is hard to like and hard to read--it feels unbelievable that Reese's character would fall for him. Also, the romantic relationship between Reese and Paul is hard to believe because they don't spend much time together and when they do, it's awkward. Overall, I was disappointed that I wasted my time and money on this film.
12 people found this helpful
JJReviewed in the United States on March 19, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
Could have been a lot better
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I think some important stuff got left out of this story. Does this girl play softball for a living? What kind of job does she have and does she ever go to it. They waited way too long to reveal to her what the viewer has known since the first scenes - she has been dropped from the team. So, why is she so full of angst if she doesn't even know yet? Why on earth would she give up her apartment and move in with a guy she doesn't trust and doesn't even like very much? Reese Witherspoon does wonders with a weird role. I normally cannot stand Owen Wilson but he is likeable in this. He takes a part that is all jerk and turns it into someone human. I always love Paul Rudd and this is a perfect role for him. As Jack Nicholson has aged he has played this same type of role so many times that he can do it without thinking and it's obvious. But, he fit the role like it was written for him and it probably was. I would love to have seen some sort of real resolution at the end instead of it leaving us just hanging there. Is this jerk really going to let his son go to jail for something that he did? At the end of the film I believed that he would do just that. It's actually a pretty good movie but I kept having the feeling that it could have been a lot better.
7 people found this helpful
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