¨We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.¨
How do you know when you’re in love is one of the questions one of the characters asks in this film. Director James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, As Good As it Gets) tries to answer that question in this romantic comedy (although I would actually label it as a dramedy) by creating a love triangle, but he fails at really trying to come up with an honest answer. The answer Matty receives to his question is ¨I know that I`m in love when I put on condoms when I´m with other girls.¨ A very superficial answer, which actually fits with this superficial movie. Brooks has directed really good films in the past, but he really missed his mark this time around. There were a few funny moments, some memorable quotes here and there, but the script (written by Brooks himself) was just too weak and the pace too slow. The first hour was torturous for me, I absolutely hated every character and every situation, but the second half of the film built up to a somewhat satisfying ending and tolerable characters. I was really disappointed with this movie because I know James L. Brooks is a very talented director and he always tries to make original movies, and I also liked the cast in this film, but the script was just too weak and the performances felt really awkward and out of place at times. I like the cast, just not how they worked together in this movie. The only positive thing I can say is that at least Brooks tries to make a different kind of romantic comedy with less clichés than most other romcoms.
The story actually centers around Lisa (Reese Witherspoon), a star softball player who has recently been cut from the National team because she will turn 31 by the time the next Olympics take place. Her life revolved entirely around the sport and now she`s at the point of her life where she doesn`t know what step to take next. She has always dated athletes and is currently seeing Matty (Owen Wilson), a professional baseball player both on and off the field. Matty is a star who is used to dating a lot of girls but really doesn’t know anything about relationships. He is clueless and really doesn’t know how to help Lisa, but he does like her a lot and realizes she is different from what he has felt for other girls. Lisa, although hesitant at first, finds comfort in George (Paul Rudd) who loves listening to her and trying to ease her. At first she thinks he`s a weirdo, but later their friendship blossoms. George is going through difficult problems himself, but he puts them aside to try to help Lisa, with whom he`s fallen in love. George is a businessman who has just been indicted from his father`s company. Charles (Jack Nicholson) actually has set up his son to become the target of a federal investigation by falsifying some corporate financial documents. If George takes the blame he will only have to pay a sentence of 2 to 3 years of jail, while Charles would have to face 25 years if his son doesn`t ¨help him out¨. Charles is that kind of father who would let his son take the blame, while George is that kind of son who is too nice and honest and way too ethical to belong in the business world.
My major problem with this movie is that the performances felt too forced at times. I didn’t like Reese Witherspoon in this movie, she was selfish and mean, and really didn’t deserve someone like George who is just way too much of a nice guy. There wasn`t much chemistry between neither of the relationships (Matty-Lisa or Lisa-George). The second half of the film picks up a little and Lisa seems to become nicer, but she really doesn’t seem interested in George`s problems which are really much larger than hers. All she has to deal with is retirement from softball, but that is really all she cared for anyways. George doesn`t seem to mind however, all he likes to do is stare at her. The funniest character in this movie is George`s secretary, Annie (played by Kathryn Hahn) and she steals each scene she`s in. That is a major problem when you have such talented and funny comedians as Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd, and Owen Wilson. The scene where Annie is giving birth to her child and her boyfriend is proposing to her is one of the best in the movie and the chemistry those two characters have in those three minutes is much stronger than any other one in the film. This distant romance could have used a lot more comedy coming from Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd who should have been given more opportunities to improvise and loosen up.