Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is a cute, talented journalist for the
popular women's magazine, "Exposure," who writes monthly "How To"
columns. Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey) is a handsome lifelong
bachelor struggling to get his ideas heard at his advertising job.
When Andie concocts her latest column, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,"
in which she will initially attract a man and then purposefully make
the mistakes women often make in relationships, she chooses Benjamin
as her target. What she doesn't realize is that Benjamin has made
his own bet: if he can make a woman fall head over heels in love with
him in ten days, he will finally be allowed to pitch his advertising
ideas to the head of a diamond company. With Andie secretly attempting
to turn off Benjamin for her assignment, and Benjamin determined to
make her fall for him, an unsaid battle forms that leaves both parties
unavoidably attracted to the other, and wondering if they haven't
made a terrible mistake in th! eir initial schemes.
Directed by Donald Petrie (2000's "Miss Congeniality"), "How to Lose
a Guy in 10 Days" would seemingly have all of the ingredients needed
to make a charming romantic comedy, including the well-cast pairing
of lovable star-on-the-rise Kate Hudson (2000's "Almost Famous") and
the equally able Matthew McConaughey (2002's "Frailty"), but it takes
too many wrong turns on its path for the inevitable happy ending.
For a while, it seems as if Hudson's Andie and McConaughey's Benjamin
have been written as unusually intelligent individuals for this type
of mainstream romance, but the screenplay (by Kristen Buckley, Brian
Regan, and Burr Steers) lets them down in the end. The climax, set
at the gala reception for the diamond company Benjamin wants to pitch
his ideas to, dissolves into a disheartening series of revelations
and misunderstandings. The way in which Andie and Benjamin handle
their mutual discovery of what each has been doing to the other is
terribly frustrating, as their IQ levels are knocked down several
notches and they come off seeming needlessly selfish.
To all individuals with at least part of their brains working: if
you were playing a trick on someone, and then you found out that the
other was doing the exact same thing, wouldn't you laugh it off and
get on with your life? For Andie and Benjamin, they become irate at
each other, causing an on-stage charade at the reception and then
continuing their one-sided argument outside. Sure, both of them finally
come around, but this kind of dumbed-down plot development makes the
leads look bad and the audience feeling messed around with.
Lest it seem like the film is a complete bust, "How to Lose a Guy
in 10 Days" does have its sharp moments. The lengths in which Andie
goes to in her desperate quest to scare off Benjamin is quite funny,
as she tricks him into taking her to a Celine Dion concert, raids
his weekly poker game with his buddies, and digitally superimposes
their faces to make a family photo album, complete with fantasy children.
As they reluctantly start to really like each other, there are quite
a few engagingly sweet and romantic scenes, to boot, helped immeasurably
by the chemistry Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey ignite.
For Hudson, this is her first big lead role, and she is fabulous as
Andie even when the screenplay lets her down. Repeating a character
quite similar to the one he played in 2001's dreadful "The Wedding
Planner," McConaughey's role as Benjamin is undemanding, but he does
it with effortless skill. In supporting roles, Kathryn Hahn (TV's
Crossing Jordan") is a bright new face as Andie's best friend; Adam
Goldberg (2001's "A Beautiful Mind"), in a role way below his proven
abilities, is Benjamin's best friend; and Bebe Neuwirth (1999's "Summer
of Sam") has the thankless part of Andie's stringent boss.
Since the minor roles are just that--minor--this is Kate Hudson and
Matthew McConaughey's show all the way, and they carry the film as
far as they can on their own before the ill-conceived third act brings
them to a road block they don't recover from. "How to Lose a Guy in
10 Days" is an entertaining trifle to a point (complete with a poppy,
catchy soundtrack), but it doesn't treat the character's or the audience's
intelligence with the respect they deserve. By the end, you just don't care anymore.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman