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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 12/17/2010

"How Do You Know" if it's a good baseball movie? Sportswriter gives Owen Wilson a thumbs-down as pitcher

By The Reliable Source

Does he look like a credible pitcher to you? Owen Wilson stars as a Nationals player alongside Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd in "How Do You Know." (Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc.)

The cast and crew of the movie "How Do You Know" spent the better part of a month filming in D.C. last year -- and it shows. Our critic colleague Ann Hornaday declares that director James L. Brooks truly gets Washington.

But does he get baseball? For that, we asked a baseball writer.

"How Do You Know," after all, is the first major motion picture to feature your Washington Nationals in a big way, starring Owen Wilson as a Nats pitcher. The organization welcomed the attention, granting Brooks permission to film at the ballpark and use the team logo. On Wednesday night, front-office brass hosted a screening and cocktail reception at E Street Cinema to benefit the team's charitable foundation -- and we sent the Post's Washington Nationals beat reporter, Adam Kilgore, to check it out. He proved to be a tough critic. Here are his notes:

  • The movie's first mention of the Nationals comes during an ESPN SportsCenter highlight of a Nats victory, reports Kilgore, "which lets the viewer know it's a work of fiction."

  • The one main shot of Nationals Park, however, shows it to be half-empty, "which leads the viewer to believe this might not be fiction."

  • As for Wilson as "Matty Reynolds," we're told he "throws 94 and makes $14 million." Notes Kilgore: "Only one reliever in baseball history -- New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera -- has earned $14 million in one season, and that came 13 years into a career that established him as the best closer the game has known. Rivera achieved his status with a wicked, unrivaled cutter, not some 94-mph heater." Oh, and Wilson "looks less like a ballplayer than a kid dressed up as one for Halloween."

  • Also, Matty lives "in a preposterously nice apartment on 15th and I," whereas real-life Nats live in Northern Virginia, Kilgore says.

    Nats relief pitcher Drew Storen, who caught the movie at its L.A. premiere, agreed with our colleague that the flick was "full of exaggerated baseball stereotypes." (So the bit about Matty stockpiling pink Nationals sweat suits with his name and number to hand out to his conquests -- not true to life?)

    Kilgore says he found some laughs in it, but that it's just not a baseball movie. "'How Do You Know' is about baseball," he says, "like 'Casablanca' is about restaurants."

  • See also: Ann Hornaday heralds James L. Brooks as one of the few directors who really gets Washington, catching the real spirit of the city beyond mere monument shots. But Hornday's review of "How Do You Know" only gives it two-and-a-half stars.

    By The Reliable Source  | December 17, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
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    Everyone should run out and see this movie. If there is any truth to the rumor that Vincent Gray is putting Crystal Palmer back as head of the Motion Picture and TV Office Hollywood production crews will once again be avoiding DC like the plague. Please Mr. Gray, no!

    Posted by: JackStar | December 17, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

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