Despite being one of the most contrived and convoluted “high-concept” chick flicks in recent memory, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days somehow ends up a mildly entertaining diversion that should appeal to most fans of the genre. I have to admit that I am not one of these fans. I find the formulaic nature of these films almost always off-putting and often condescending. My wife loves them however, and watching this film with her I couldn’t help but notice just how successful director Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality) was at presenting the formula in an endearing way.
The title of the film comes from an article being written by Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson), a columnist for a Cosmo-like magazine called Composure. In an attempt to prove her journalistic prowess, she decides to find a guy at random, date him, and follow all the cliches that girls supposedly do wrong in order to get the guy to dump her within a designated 10 days. Personally, I don’t see the appeal for an article like that, but what do I know? I’m a guy. Her boss, however, seems to think it’s brilliant.
At the same time, ad agency employee Benjamin Barry (Matthew McCounaughey) is promised a high-profile client if he is able to get a girl to fall in love with him within (you guessed it) 10 days. I don’t know a lot about marketing, but this whole scenario seems like a bit of a stretch. Anyway, they of course choose each other for their respective challenges and, as mentioned above, contrived and convoluted hi-jinks ensue.
Through this whole endeavor it’s easy to visualize the screenwriters struggling to make all the pieces fall into place. No sane guy would stay with a girl treating him like she does, but because of his bet, he’s guaranteed to stay. And when the inevitable realization of her deception comes, she is able to be just as mad at him because of his bet. Even though both characters are doing horrible things they balance each other out, enabling the audience to get the anticipated feel-good happy ending.
Despite the mechanics of the script, the film is entertaining. McConaughey and Hudson have a believable chemistry, and it’s easy to root for things to work out. Some of the ways that she tortures him are moderately funny, as are his reactions, and there is a lightness to the material which I kind of enjoyed. After awhile I was able to accept the ridiculous premise and just go along with it. One of the extras on the Blu-Ray features an interview with Lynda Obst, a producer on the film, who explained the necessity of the audience wanting the two leads to get together even more than the characters do. In watching the movie with my wife, I was able to see this in action. She completely bought into this world and would have been devastated if things didn’t work out. I suppose it is this attachment to the characters that draw women to films like this.
The Blu-Ray itself is pretty standard-issue. There is a commentary with the director, as well as a feature entitled “How to Make a Movie in 2 years.” This feature focuses on the origins of the project, going all the way back to the writing of the book on which the film was based. They interview the authors, the producers, etc. and attempt to detail the process of getting to production. Mostly serving as a self-congratulatory feeding of their own egos, everybody involved seems very passionate about this project, attributing a level of importance to the film that it doesn’t really deserve.
Other features include a brief but annoying segment entitled “Why the Sexes Battle.” Interviewing various specialists in the field, they attempt to provide some sort of analysis on the differences between men and women. There is also an extended interview with the authors of the original book, a music video, and some deleted scenes.
Overall, the movie isn’t bad. I definitely don’t have the desire to see it again anytime soon, but if you’re into this sort of thing, then you will enjoy it. Extremely predictable yet convoluted, the film is fun and forgettable. And my wife absolutely loved it.