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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

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

How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days
Cast: Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Bebe Neuwirth, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Goldberg, Michael Michele, Shalom Harlow
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $177 million

Plot: Two New Yorkers fight the battle of the sexes to a standstill (without entirely realising it)

'Rom-Com That Practically Lost Me'

In Romantic comedy films, it is key that both the love interest and the main character, who we are supposed to root for to fall in love, are both likeable and not come across as self-absorbing and shallow. Well, sadly, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days is not one of those movies that follow this rule.

Writer Andie pitches an idea for a magazine piece to her boss (Frasier's Bebe Neuwirth): she picks a man, dates (and perhaps sleep with) him for 10 days and after that, kick him to the kerb whilst resorting to whichever tactic to drive him away. Benjamin Barry, meanwhile, has set his sights on getting any woman to fall in love with him, like a chick magnet, within 10 days; with that in mind, he focuses on Andie as his prime target.

The comedy aspects come off as cringey and unfunny, whilst the film goes down the path trodden by The War of the Roses with the battle of the sexes concept - yet, in contrast to the 1989 flick, by playing things straight and going down the cliched rom-com route, as opposed to undertaking the screwball comedy approach, director Donald Petrie, formerly of Mystic Pizza & Miss Congeniality, doesn't take risks, nor has the courage to go a little deeper, and one that is also satirically biting. Formulaic and contrived, his direction doesn't seem to be interested in delving into the characterisations of Andie and Benjamin and discovering what makes them tick and why, despite their opposite qualities, not to mention noticeable personality flaws, they'd be perfect for each other.

The pairing of Hudson and McConaughey didn't convince me enough, I could imagine, perhaps say, Sandra Bullock as a better fit for the role of Andie over Kate Hudson, who doesn't seem suited to be playing this type of so-called devious character. Hudson and McConaughey have proven their worth elsewhere with superior material at their disposal, yet there arguably isn't much conviction when it comes to their onscreen romantic chemistry - they did reunite for Fool's Gold, 5 years later, however. The other remaining characters, Benjamin's buddy pals are mostly background types who play no major part in the plot, and the two competitors & film's antagonists (Michael Michele and Shalom Harlow) attempt to foil Andie's attempts, & they came off as being flimsy and throwaway.

Besides the romance, the story, based on a book, is predictable and is too heavy and penned by the writers of 102 Dalmations (say no more), they stretch the premise out to 2 hours without truly eliciting any major sparks or twists of real interest. It practically fails to do very much to sustain my attention throughout.

2003's Deliver Us From Eva treads on a similar path to How To Lose A Guy..., but that offering worked for me more so than How To Lose A Guy, as actress Gabrielle Union manages to sell the overly confident & attractive looking, yet uptight smart girl who, underneath it all, has a softer, kinder and romantic side to her.

Hudson, on the other hand, couldn't and isn't able to pull it off.

Final Verdict: 

With such sparse and limited material on hand, this is to Hudson and McConaughey's undoing, despite their efforts on the performance front and with that, How to Lose A Guy... is fraught with the same deficiencies that plague 95% of romantic comedies.


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