March 22, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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On Homevideo and VOD:  Still Not Worth Seeing.

James L Brooks is legendarily responsible for some of the great comedies and comedy-dramas of his generation, with a record that stretches from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “The Simpsons” on TV, and Terms of Endearmentto Broadcast News in film. Recently, though, he’s stumbled as a movie writer-director, and last year he followed the problematic Spanglish with the woeful HOW DO YOU KNOW. Brooks just never seemed to get his bearings on a story that was more of a conventional romantic comedy than his usual work. Reese Witherspoon’s professional softball player starts as a reasonably strong character, but as she dithers between Paul Rudd (a mousy executive in danger of going to jail for a scandal he didn’t cause) and Owen Wilson (a big-league ballplayer who’s a Casanova), one loses interest in all of them. Even Jack Nicholson as Rudd’s father, usually a good-luck charm for Brooks, seems to be doing a nightclub impressionist’s version of “Jack Nicholson.” The film cost $100M to make because of the huge star salaries (and Brooks’ typically extended production schedule)–and that’s without marketing costs–and made only $48M worldwide, causing a fountain of red ink. Just sad for all concerned, not least the fans.

–Mitch Salem

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."