How Do You Know Technical Review (UK - BD)
Chris takes a quick look at this rom-com on Blu-ray ahead of tomorrow's release
Lisa Jorgenson (Reese Witherspoon) is a softball player, popular among her team-mates, but the wrong side of thirty. To her dismay she is left off of the roster for Team USA and as a result makes some questionable choices that lead her to enter into a relationship with Matty Reynolds (Owen Wilson), a fast-living, womanising pitcher who plays for the Washington Nationals. At around this time Lisa also meets George Madison (Paul Rudd), who got her number from one of her friends and decided, on a whim, to ask her out for lunch. Unfortunately on the day of their meeting George receives some bad news: he is to be investigated for corporate malfeasance by the United States government due to financial irregularities at the company her runs for his father, Charles (Jack Nicholson). Not long after this disastrous first encounter the pair meet up again and become friends, with George helping Lisa through her problems and vice versa. George then realises that he has feelings for Lisa, but as she's still in a relationship with Matty a complicated love-triangle forms.
Are you still awake? You're doing better than me then. I don't know how you can go wrong with rom-com royalty like Reece Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson, but How Do You Know is a spectacular misfire. This biggest problem is that it can’t decide whether it’s a romantic comedy or a serious drama, but to be completely honest it doesn’t do either genre justice. Sure the actors are charming enough in their roles, but mere minutes after watching it I can’t think of a single memorable line or sequence and I certainly didn’t laugh. The utter predictability of these films is often what people like about them, but in this case even my wife hated it. That’s pretty damming criticism from someone who loves the Sex and the City movies…
How Do You Know arrives on Blu-ray with a very impressive 1.85:1 (1080/24p AVC) widescreen transfer. The colour palette is extremely vibrant and favours the warmer end of the spectrum, which lends a bright, sunny appearance and gives the characters that ‘perma-tan’ look. The image is exceptionally detailed across the board, be it facial close-ups and fabric or the textures of incidental set dressing and wide shots, and there’s a fine layer of grain throughout. Black levels are rock-solid and the print is devoid of any artefacts, film or otherwise. It’s another fine effort from Sony.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack isn’t particularly active, but it handles the major elements effectively enough. The picture is very dialogue oriented and the track delivers each and every line with perfect clarity through the centre channel. There are a few atmospheric effects sprinkled throughout—crowd cheers, rain and the sound of a bustling city—but beyond that everything stays firmly anchored at the front of the soundstage. Bass is non-existent, but that’s to be expected given the nature of the source material, while Hans Zimmer's score is fairly lightweight and pleasing accompaniment to the rest of the mix. All things considered this reserved track isn’t anything special, but it does everything that’s asked of it and suits the film well.
The disc includes a surprising amount of bonus content for what is, let’s face it, a relatively low key release. There’s an audio commentary with writer/director James L. Brooks and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, just over thirty minutes of select scenes commentary with James L. Brooks and Owen Wilson, around thirty minutes of deleted scenes with optional director commentary, a blooper reel, an ‘Extra Innings’ making of featurette, another featurette entitled ‘A Conversation with James L. Brooks and Hans Zimmer’, an ‘Interactive Script Gallery’, a look at the alcoholic drink made in the film entitled ‘The George’ (with optional commentary by Brooks) and BD-Live functionality.
Okay, so How Do You Know isn't technically a bad film, but it is a confused one. I find it odd how a film that stars some pretty decent actors can be so, well, dull, but there are just too many protracted scenes and dead-end plot threads before the ‘saw it coming a mile away’ ending arrives for my tastes. As previously mentioned the most telling thing is that my other half is a big fan of the three leads and rom-coms in general, and she was thoroughly bored by the whole affair. Sony’s Blu-ray release is technically proficient with a particularly strong visual transfer and some decent extras, but I can only recommend it to fans of the film.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 20th June 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Italian, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Catalan, Audio Description 5.1 English
Subtitles: Catalan, English, Hindi, Italian, Spanish
Extras: Audio Commentary, Select Scenes Commentary, 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’ Featurette with Optional Commentary, BD-Live
Easter Egg: No
Director: James L. Brooks
Cast: Reece Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Romance
Length: 121 minutes
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