How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is an utterly predictable comedy that actually works better than it has any right to. While its unnecessarily complicated ending earns yawns, the chemistry between its stars, Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, keeps the proceedings mostly lively.
By the Book
PG-13 for sex-related material
Andie Anderson (Hudson, Almost Famous) is an aspiring Master’s-degree-baring journalist eagerly looking for opportunities to write about life, politics, and far-flung places like Tajikistan. Writing for Composure magazine, however, limits her subjects to things like Botox, dating, and lipstick.
Inspired by a despondent friend who was unceremoniously dumped by a guy after 10 torrid days of romance, Andie embarks on a mission to get dumped herself by a guy in 10 days. (It’ll make a great “how to” article!)
There should be less-convoluted ways to go about this, such as interviewing women and finding out what they think led to the demise of their relationships, but Andie wants a firsthand account and sets out to intentionally make life miserable for her soon-to-be-found boyfriend.
Enter Benjamin Barry (McConaughey, 13 Conversations About One Thing), an advertising salesman specializing in sporting goods accounts. It just so happens he’s made a bet that he can get a woman to fall in love with him in 10 days. If he wins, he gets to move up in the world and make a sales pitch for a highly coveted diamond account.
Before you can say “ohmigawd,” Andie and Ben meet at a swanky New York nightspot and the fireworks explode. Or, more accurately, the sparklers sizzle.
Given that its source material is a book with the lengthy title How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don’ts of Dating, which features stick drawings and maybe a dozen or so words on each page, the movie takes its starting point one step forward and creates a far-fetched scenario in which to pass on insights regarding relationships.
The screenwriters, Kristen Buckley and Brian Regan (102 Dalmations), along with Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down), nailed the far-fetched part but come up short on offering anything remotely akin to insight. If it weren’t for Barry’s own bet, the dump-seeking Andie would’ve been taken out with yesterday’s trash by Day Two.
In a movie that is ultimately about breaking all the rules, the anorexic story simply doesn’t go far enough. It’s a job for the Farrelly brothers. Instead, director Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality) repeatedly plays it safe and goes for the obvious.
The only real insight offered is into how bad writing can be and still have Hollywood accept it. Ben, eager to find a hook to pitch to the diamond brokers, is lamely inspired by Andie when he comes up with “Frost Yourself” as the campaign’s slogan. It’s hard to tell if the writers realize how bad that line is. Ben should be sent straight back to pitching jockstraps; instead, he gets to hang out with his newfound friends in the diamond business.
Sentimental in Staten Island
Andie does pull off some funny tricks as she gets the ball rolling, like quickly getting in tight with Barry’s mom over the phone. The instantaneous friendship, indicating she’s about to settle in and stay for the long haul, is a sign of suffocating actions to come. But for every clever success, Andie’s psychotic behavior unleashes a bunch of duds.
Straining to tie things together, the couple pay a visit to Ben’s parents on Staten Island and the sentimentality grows thick. Ben eagerly changes his nephew’s diapers while Andie gets a “real” hug from Ben’s mom that brings Andie to tears. Such moments are the stuff of bonding between two people masquerading as people they really aren’t.
Even though the movie is timed for a Valentine’s Day audience, there are enough holes in the story to sink any hopeless romantic’s heart. Instead of cheering on Andie and Ben, the audience is left to wonder what the odds are they’ll still be together this time next year.