How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days

How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days movie still

Director: Donald Petrie
Screenwriters: Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan, Burr Steers
Starring: Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Goldberg, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Klein
Release details: Paramount/UIP, USA 2003, 116mins
Full details: IMDb / view trailer (Quicktime)
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: 4 out of 10

First of all, I should admit that I saw this film on a plane from Las Vegas to Glasgow, so it was basically the US TV version. While it's my personal opinion that the only difference between what I saw and the theatrical version was merely the dubbing of mild swear-words, I will accept that other elements of this romantic comedy may have been excised without my knowledge. Like, for instance, the romance and the comedy.

But, if you want clichés, however, we have plenty. The leads, for example, have movie-perfect lives - not to mention the standard New York loft-style apartments so big that they could double as Yankee Stadium - but are curiously unfulfilled. Andie Anderson (Hudson) is a columnist for glossy women's magazine, but all she really wants to be is a serious journalist. Ben Barry (McConnaughey) is an ad executive who has previously concentrated on the boy's toys market, but desperately wants to land a big account for some Euro-trash diamond dealers.

By some completely non-hilarious coincidence, Andie has been tasked to write a column on how to lose a guy in 10 days, while serial womaniser Ben has taken a bet that he can't make a woman fall in love with him in - you guessed it - 10 days. What could possibly happen next? Who could possibly care?

I'm sure it's a comparison that Hudson would want to avoid, but it's difficult not to think of Goldie Hawn when you watch this movie. Twenty years ago, Goldie would probably have been the star and she might even have succeeded in making the character of Andie more likeable. It's almost demeaning to watch an actress of Hudson's intelligence mugging her way through each humiliation she is forced by the script to heap on poor McConnaughey. He's also charming enough as the put-upon guy's guy who just needs to find the right woman to settle down, but the script makes him a doormat, which is not an attractive quality in a leading man.

How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days

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Like most viewers, I don't expect my romantic comedies to be realistic, but I do expect the characters to be sympathetic and the attraction between them to be understandable. How to Lose a Guy... doesn't even come close to meeting those two basic requirements of the genre and is further hampered by an almost total lack of lack of chemistry between the leads. Despite the fact that both of them are undoubtedly blonde and pretty, even Cruise and Kidman in Far and Away exhibited more passion.

Their predicament is not helped by the fact that the single most interesting character is Andie's colleague, Michelle (Hahn), who really does have serious relationship issues. Meanwhile, Bebe Neuwirth waltzes in as Andie's boss and, as is now customary, steals every scene in which she appears. I kept thinking how much better it would be if the film had dumped Andie and Ben and just concentrated on these two characters.

How to Lose A Guy... is directed by Donald Petrie, whose previous work includes Miss Congeniality. Petrie is a director of some competence and he's probably the safest pair of hands for this sort of rom-com right at this moment, but even Billy Wilder would have struggled to make anything out of this script.

Given the worldwide box office take, this film clearly touched a chord with many viewers. It's certainly undemanding enough and both the cast and the New York locations are lit to attractive effect. But it's hard to truly enjoy a film so thoroughly dependent on cliché and stereotype that, while you're watching it, you can actually predict the next line before the characters open their mouths.

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