PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Film

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

Cynthia Fuchs

She's so cute, he's so cute, everyone's so cute.


How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Director: Donald Petrie
Cast: Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Michele, Shalom Harlow, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Klein
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount
First date: 2003
US Release Date: 2003-02-07

There are any number of minor disasters associated with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. It reveals once again, in case you doubted, that Matthew McConaughey has dreadful taste in romantic comedies. It provides another opportunity to compare Kate Hudson unfavorably with her mother, who was, of course, who was superb in this very genre. And it squanders the talents of Bebe Neuwirth and Michael Michele. Still, its most troubling point is that it's produced by the long-absent Robert Evans, so roundly hailed last year on the release of The Kid Stays in the Picture, the remarkable documentary on his remarkable life. If this flip little film is supposed to herald his triumphant return to Paramount, he's better off retired.

How to Lose a Guy sets up with a premise that's probably just a little too crafty. Andie Anderson (Hudson) is the "how to" columnist for "the fastest growing women's fashion magazine in the country, the New York-based Composure. Though she writes pieces with titles like "How to Get a Better Body in 5 Days" or "How to Feng Shui Your Apartment," she's a serious girl with an MA in journalism from Columbia; she sees this gig as a means to an end, that is, a chance to write about "things that matter," like, oh, Tajikistan.

In order to get such assignments, though, she's got to win over her editor, Lana (Neuwirth, who scoots right along with this bitch-on-wheels role), who sees the mag's mission pretty narrowly -- stories on designer bags, botox, and "deadly pedicures," everything ending "upbeat." On the spot during a staff meeting, Andie pitches "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," a manual on the "classic mistakes" girls tend to make with their boys: acting clingy, listening to Jewel and Carly Simon, leaving tampons in his medicine cabinet, etc. (It's worth noting here that the screenplay, by Kristen Buckley and Brian Regan, and apparently touched up by Burr Steers -- the man who made the impressive Igby Goes Down -- is inspired by an actual self-help book by this name, which only suggests the sorry state of inspiration in the movie industry.)

The catch will be that, the "how to" girl is supposed to act out her article before she writes it: it's not clear why this is, but a little montage showing her in the gym and moving furniture under the opening credits suggests that this is her M.O. And so, she heads off to the nearest "après-work watering hole" to find her mark, whom she will seduce and then drive off in the allotted time.

All this is laid out in just a few minutes, intercut with the setup for this very mark, Ben Barry (McConaughey). He works for an advertising agency, and has a knack for selling sports equipment. Yearning to move on up, he sets his sights on a big new account, which happens to be a diamond company (so Andie/Hudson can wear a splendiferous $5,280,000 icy wreath at the climactic hoedown). And so, Ben makes a bet with his boss (Robert Klein), that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. As in Andie's case, the logic of this arrangement is unclear, except that the genre demands they have opposite interests so that they must struggle against actually falling in love with one another, or the movie version of same.

La-de-da. The couple-that-will-be meets cute at the bar. Or, more accurately, they are engineered into meeting by Ben's rivals at the ad agency, the "Judys," Spears (Michael Michele) and Green (Shalom Harlow), who know both players' agendas, and imagine that Andie's ulterior motive will trump Ben's, and so they'll win the diamond account away from him. As their tandem name implies, these two tend to appear on screen together, nattering and scheming and looking great in their chic matching suits.

Perhaps with an eye toward balance, the film provides each of the protagonists with a pair of natterers as well, coworkers who alternately gawk or egg on, even, on occasion, pass vague judgment on bad behavior. This ensures that neither Andie nor Ben has to spend much time thinking through choices or repercussions, as these paired buddies articulate variations on every already obvious point. Omigod, you left stuffed animals all over his bed? Or, Dude! She made you go to a Celine Dion concert?!

This back-and-forth creates a certain energy, erratic, but in motion. But then Andie takes Ben to see a fake couples therapist, forcing his hand. In a deperate attempt to please her, he takes Andie home to meet his folks, out on Staten Island (entailing a fresh-air-romantic ferry ride), How to Lose a Guy rather loses its way. When his mother whispers in Andie's ear, "Don't you break his heart," the double-double-cross plot takes a backseat to the really in-love plot. They play cards, ride his motorcycle, get splashed in a puddle, have sex in the bathroom. She's so cute, he's so cute, everyone's so cute.

This sort of contrived coupling plot is nothing if not predictable. The two prettiest people in the room will eventually stop tormenting each other, put on fancy clothes, and kiss for a cheering audience. The decent versions of this plot go through the motions quickly and reasonably intelligently. Even the lame versions can say a little something about things that matter, even if these things aren't immediately visible on screen. This one might think its point is revealed in Ben's ostensibly genius line for the diamonds campaign -- "Frost Yourself," meaning, he says, that women don't need men to give them diamonds, they can get them on their own. You know, like, "Independent women, part 3."

But its point is, in truth, more depressing and more conventional: she will give up her chance for a job in Washington, he will get tampons in his medicine cabinet. In 10 days.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.