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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (2003)

Starring Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg, Michael Michele, Shalom Harlow, Kathryn Hahn, Rebecca Harris, Robert Klein, Bill Kotsatos, Thomas Lennon, David Macniven, Bebe Neuwirth, Annie Parisse and Justin Peroff.

Screenplay by Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan and Burr Steers.

Directed by Donald Petrie.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  112  minutes.  Rated PG-13.

What’s worse?  A movie that stinks through and through, or a movie that shows some genuine promise and fails to live up to it?  How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was a big disappointment to me, mostly because for a good amount of the screen time, I actually really enjoyed it.

The film starts with a kind of ridiculous premise, it’s one of those Hollywood films where two beautiful people meet because of an outside bet… the kind that no one ever makes other than in these films.  Kate Hudson plays Andie, a beautiful and talented writer who works writing stories about cellulite and hair at a vapid women’s magazine called Composure (any similarities to Cosmopolitan are strictly intentional), but she really wants to write serious political pieces.  Instead she gets stuck writing an article about the things women do to frighten men off.

The idea is, she has to meet a guy, charm him, and then pile on all the things that women do to sabotage their relationships.  This movie raises the stakes by having not one, but both of them involved in contests.  (Doesn’t anybody just meet and want to date without an ulterior motive in the movies anymore?)  Matthew McConaughey’s advertising stud, Ben, bets he can get any woman to fall in love with him in ten days, with the prize being his firm’s big diamond contract.  (Is this really how ad agencies are doling out responsibilities these days?)

The whole two-bet thing is a BIG stretch, but they sort of explain it off in the script, so I was willing to go with it.  And for a good while, the film rewarded my faith.  Kate Hudson obviously relishes the opportunity to portray the ultimate girlfriend from hell.  She starts leaving things at his bachelor pad, talking baby-talk, being clingy and needy, making him miss basketball games, getting him into fights with strangers, singing Carly Simon tunes, serving cucumber sandwiches at poker night.  McConaughey also has a terrific slow burn as a commitment-phobic ladies’ man trying desperately to fight his instincts to bolt from this wacko.  These scenes are genuinely very funny and surprising… a clever and dark look at mating rituals… if a little over the top.  If only they could have stuck this idea out to the end.

The movie completely loses track when she goes to visit Ben’s family on Staten Island and becomes entranced with them (though frankly, they’re kind of loud and obnoxious) and with their home (a pretty unspectacular, run-down looking little ranch house that has only one redeeming feature, a deck overlooking the bay.)  This leads to a series of clichéd romantic comedy scenes where they come to realize that it is not just a game, it may be the real thing.  Of course, they learn of each other’s deception in the middle of a formal business party leading to the rote extremely loud and public break-up scene.

The most disappointing thing is that this movie actually had some significant humor and the opportunity to be a kind of cynical, poison-pen valentine before devolving into fluff.  By the time we hit the inevitable scene where he chases her through the traffic of New York to catch her before she moves out of town to take a new job, the film has totally lost us.  (Making this plot twist even more absurd, Andie is actually made to say that she can’t get the serious writing job she needs in New York… which is only the center of all serious publishing in the US.)  But by now, whatever clever or subversive ideas How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days had are long gone, leaving a movie we’ve all seen before, and seen done better.  (2/03)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2003 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 10, 2003.

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