Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How Do You Know

How Do You Know:  If Reese Witherspoon has ever looked hotter in a movie, I can’t remember it.  And her acting, as she plays a recently cut professional softball player, required her to purge most of her femininity, a very different kind of role for her.  This doesn’t make her character especially likable, but as with Amy Adams in The Fighter, I respect the chops.

Low femininity may be what we would expect of a professional softball player, but it makes her an atypical specimen to whom few of the usual generalizations we make about women in these here parts apply.  She finds herself the center of a love triangle involving a supplicating beta (Paul Rudd) and a womanizing alpha (Owen Wilson) who nonetheless also comes across as a supplicating beta.  While we the audience are assured that her character is good in the sack, it is evident she doesn’t seem to know or understand much about male psychology with regard to relationships. 

Here is a scene that nicely illustrates all of these character traits:

Call me whatever you want, but Wilson has a point here.  Considering that Witherspoon had dated him and that he obviously carried a torch for her, Rudd was in fact a sexual competitor, and it was very bad form for her to be caught with him in Wilson’s apartment.  Yes, I also understand how Witherspoon objects at this characterization of what she considered their shared space, but part of that sharing is accepting limits on their personal autonomy.  Wilson gets this, even as he struggles with it; Witherspoon seems not to have a clue.

I won’t ruin the story, but the takeaway is this:  it is one thing to get a woman’s hamsters going by making her suspect you might be, um, exercising your options; it is quite another to flat-out confirm those suspicions.  No amount of alpha cred makes a woman tolerant of unapologetic cheating.

Let me say in summary that, while watchable, this is not an especially great film.  It raises more questions than it answers.  It clearly wants us to root for Rudd without giving us a compelling reason why we should.  And while its characters are not wholly implausible, they are too odd to provide us much insight into sexuality or relationships in general.


Anonymous said...

Professional Softball teams? Is this an alternate reality?

Dr. Φ said...

Hale: I guess I hadn't really thought about it. Are there no professional women's softball teams?