Over the weekend, the new romantic comedy How Do You Know? — starring two of my favorite comic actors, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon, whose talent I grudgingly respect (even while I find her overweening and smug) — opened nation-wide. The trailer makes the movie seem like your typical pastiche of romantic-comedy cliches — slightly daft-but-affable heroine needs to choose between the hot-but-dumb famous guy and the cute-and-smart-but-down-on-his-luck guy while all three of them gallivant through a number of fancy apartments, hotels, and office buildings that are so lacking in personality that you could shoot furniture commercials in them. And yet, the trailer was charming enough that I thought, "Eh, if there's a quiet moment over the holidays and we're trying to find something to do, maybe I'll drag my dad to that thing." Have you guys seen it?
It's gotten mixed reviews, but the critics for Time and Salon have both said it's their favorite romantic comedy of the year. (My vote is still for "I Love You Phillip Morris.") The Salon guy, Andrew Leonard, explained his thumbs-up this way:
Is How Do You Know schmaltzy and manipulative and not entirely convincing as a portrait drawn from real life? Sure — and it's also richly, goofily funny, loaded with terrific actors and delicious moments, and pretty much bursting at the seams with joy and affection. I cried. Twice.
More to the point for today's post, the movie gets its title from a joke that plays out in the movie's trailer. In the scene, Wilson's character — a pitcher for The Washington Nationals (a baseball team, apparently) — wonders out loud, while sitting on the bench with his teammates, how a person knows that he's in love. Most of the guys look baffled, but one turns to him and says, "I got a way. I think I'm in love with somebody when I wear a condom with other girls."
But of course, that means the question of the day is: How do you know?