If you were around DC eight years ago, you may remember that Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Paul Rudd were spotted in the city over the summer. That’s because they were filming How Do You Know, a romantic comedy written and directed by James L. Brooks. The premise is deeply silly. Witherspoon plays Lisa, a softball player caught between two men: Wilson’s Matty, who is a pitcher for the Nationals, and Rudd’s George, a businessman who is under indictment for white collar crime. James L. Brooks is known for romantic comedies with bite: Broadcast News is a highlight, while As Good As It Gets got some Oscars for its two leads. In fact, Jack Nicholson pops up again here as George’s father.
How Do You Know is not a particularly good movie: Brooks seemingly lost the ability to develop flushed-out, complete characters. No one here is particularly likable, especially Wilson who is intolerably dumb, when he should be dumb and charming. Don’t worry if you never saw the film: no one else did, either. It was a financial disaster for Brooks, who has not made a film since. All that being said, it is worth watching because Brooks actually filmed lots of his DC scenes in the city. George and his father have a fight in Georgetown. There is another scene where George nearly gets run over in Adams Morgan. As noted in this column, most films set in DC rarely have actors running around the city: it is too expensive, so filmmakers just tick to B-roll. The novelty here is modest, but it is there.