HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS
Director: Donald Petrie
Cast: Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Kathryn Hahn, Robert Klein, Bebe Neuwirth
MPAA Rating: (for some sex-related material)
Running Time: 1:56
Release Date: 2/7/03
Review by Mark Dujsik
One of the least favorite criticisms I hear is that a certain movie doesn’t have likable characters. I’m now going to use it as the basis for my argument against How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which places two liars in a courtship and expects us to find it romantic. I’m justifying my decision because, in most cases when I hear this comment, the film in question does not ask us to sympathize with its characters. But this is a romantic comedy; we’re supposed to like these people. We’re supposed to find their behavior cute and endearing, not odious and sociopathic. In what civilization is this kind of behavior romantic? Instead of caring about this couple and hoping they’ll find some way of working things out and finally getting their stuff together, we try to figure out who’s the lesser of two evils. Whose transgression can we look past? Whom can we force ourselves to identify with? Who comes out the worse human being by or, more appropriately, despite his or her actions? The answers may surprise you.
Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson), a writer of editorials for the up-and-coming women’s magazine “Composure” with a name to perfectly go along with her job, is itching to write what she thinks and believes instead of what her editor (an underused Bebe Neuwirth) thinks and believes will get people to read. Andie comes to the rescue of one of her friends, who risks her job and, worse, embarrassment after failing to think of material for the new issue because of a recent breakup. The split becomes the impromptu inspiration for Andie’s new article in which she will explore the ways in which women scare off their potential suitors. To do so, she decides she needs to find a man, start a relationship with him, and then do all those things that dig under his skin. The victim: Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey), a semi-big-time advertising professional who, ironically (or lazily, depending on your perspective), has an alliterative name that starts with the next letter of the alphabet after Andie’s. Conveniently, he and Andie meet at a bar—she to find an unknowing casualty, he to get a girl to fall in love with him to win a bet and get the important new client looking at his firm.
The premise is flawed at the core; the execution of the article is pointless. If Andie is writing about the “common” things women do to drive men away, she doesn’t need to actually go out and do those things to an unsuspecting man. She could just ask women and—here’s a concept—men what those things are and why they think it gets on men’s bad sides. To do what Andie does is just cruel, really, but it adds that all-important element of conflict—no matter how desperate the attempt to do so may seem. Then there are her questionable techniques for success. At one point, Andie takes Benjamin to a couple’s therapist, who is actually the dumped friend in disguise. The article should never see the light of day because of this. First, I’m sure there’s some kind of law against that degree of fraud. Second, what kind of material can you get from it except falsified and useless. What if such therapy is a valid way of fixing relationships? Third, I hope her aspirations for legitimate writing aren’t true, because I don’t want that kind of journalist around.
The guy is also in the wrong. The key difference, though, is that while she is purposely working to devastate a relationship, he is going above and beyond to keep that relationship alive. There’s also the problem with the way in which the bet is made. Benjamin invades a private meeting to try and convince his boss to give him the big important account. In any real world situation, he’d be risking his job or at least be asked to leave immediately so as not to embarrass anyone—no questions asked. But this is the movie world where the boss simply doesn’t care. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy or because more people could get hurt by what she’s doing (she involves his family in her lie), but ultimately, Andie is worse than Benjamin. There’s something inherently wrong with a movie that somehow allows Matthew McConaughey to be more sympathetic than Kate Hudson. Nothing against McConaughey as an actor (I know he’s capable of fine work), but he’s creepy as a romantic lead. It’s the way he eats lobster on their first date and the quality of his voice as he’s wooing her that make me doubt any sane woman would allow the possibility of being alone with him.How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days grows more and more tedious as the couple continues to hide their individual secrets and becomes annoying once things between them (and the movie itself) get serious and go beyond the bet and the article. The last series of scenes grows worse because it just continues to set up big scenes where everything could be resolved in the big, dramatic way they’re going to be resolved anyway, but the movie keeps on going. Hudsonhas an obvious penchant for physical comedy, but the material isn’t funny enough to warrant anything more than a mild showcase. But we still end up liking McConaughey more. What a world.
Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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