Saturday, 30 August 2014

Movie Review: How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)


An insipid romantic comedy, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days overplays its thin premise and outstays its welcome, wasting the talent of all involved.

Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is a "how to" writer at Composure magazine, a women's monthly filled with the typical airheaded articles about relationships, sex and fashion. Andie has aspirations to write more meaningful material, but is prevented from doing so by her editor Lana (Bebe Neuwirth). Andie's next assignment is to write about all the irritating relationship mistakes that women commit to drive men away. At a bar she randomly chooses hunky advertising executive Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey) as her victim. Andie's plan is first to seduce Ben then aggravate him with clinginess to ensure that he breaks up with her within 10 days, thus providing her with the material for her piece.

Unknown to Andie, Ben has his own bet going with his boss and work colleagues. He wants to prove that he can get any woman to fall in love with him within 10 days, thus earning him the right to be the representative for a lucrative diamond jewelry account. And so when Andie starts to unleash her plan of trampling all over Ben's world with the most annoying behaviour possible, he proves remarkably resilient, since his objective is to still have her as a lover at the end of 10 days, no matter the cost.

Five different writers had a hand in the script of How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, and the strain of pulling together a coherent movie is painfully evident. The story is both convoluted and inane, even for the rom-com genre, and once the respective motives are established within the first 20 minutes, director Donald Petrie somehow manages to stretch out proceedings to an agonizing 116 minutes.

And most of the running time consists of Andie trying to make Ben's life as miserable as possible, from asking him to fetch her drinks during the last crucial seconds of a basketball playoff game to dragging him to a Celine Dion concert and a chick flick marathon. When all these obnoxious behaviours fail, she graduates to redecorating his immaculate bachelor's pad with cutesy stuffed animals, crashing his poker night with the guys, and unleashing a puppy to piss all over his home and office.

It's a concentration of abominable behaviour that would never ring true and is meant to be really funny, but in Petrie's hands whatever humour was possible is replaced by flat delivery and a prevailing mood of exaggerated nastiness. Of course the film eventually veers to the well-trodden path of true love emerging from the ashes, but Andie's cruelty and Ben's connivance make that outcome more ludicrous than usual when it finally arrives.

Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey don't even try to convince, and play their roles with a combination of distorted disinterest and tacky typecasting. In her few scenes Bebe Neuwirth provides a dose of irreverent aloofness, but the rest of the supporting cast is weak and consists of more television-level talent in the form of Kathryn Hahn, Annie Parisse and Robert Klein.

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days is a tiresome exercise in vexatious behaviour, with a stale exterior and a hollow core.






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