How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days review by Mike Long

As someone who is interested in films and filmmaking, I usually focus on the technical side of the genre, and really don’t pay much attention to the actors. Unless, of course, something occurs to draw my attention to them. This typically means that the acting is especially good or bad. But, what if the acting were, well, just plain wrong. That’s the case with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, a film whose potential is corrupted by the acting.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days opens with the co-mingling of two storylines. Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is a writer for Composure magazine, a publication which focuses on fashion and lifestyles. However, Andie is unhappy with her job writing the “How To…” column and longs to be a serious journalist. Yet, her editor, Lana (Bebe Neuwirth), is resistant to change and wants Andie to keep writing her puff pieces. Andie’s latest assignment is to write an article entitled “How to Lose a Guy in10 Days”, in which she will explore all of the things that women do to drive a man away. In order to research this piece, she decides that she will meet a man and attempt to drive him away.

Meanwhile, Ben Barry (Matthew McConaughey), who works in advertising, is trying to land an account with a huge diamond broker for his company. But, since Ben usually works with sports companies and beer makers, his boss, Phillip (Robert Klein), is hesitant to give Ben the pitch. In order to prove that he understands women well enough to handle the campaign, Ben asserts that he can make any woman fall in love with him in just ten days. If he can do that, Phillip will give him the job.

These two plot points converge when Ben and Andie meet in a bar, and they both immediately begin playing each other. Andie is obnoxious and clingy, making moves that would normally terrify a man. But, Ben sticks to his guns, and attempts to take all of the mental and emotional abuse that Andie throws at him. As the 10 days progress, Andie begins to wonder what she will have to do to get rid of Ben, and Ben, in turn, assumes that Andie is insane. What will happen to a relationship where no one is being honest?

The script for How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days offers a great deal of promise. Based on the book by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long, the film takes the opposite approach of most romantic comedies, which tend to show idealized and unrealistic relationships. This film isn’t necessarily realistic either, but its portrayal of all of the things that can go wrong in a relationship is very clever, and helps the film to overcome the standard “chick flick” boundaries. Both men and women will recognize the obsessive and aggressive behaviors that Andie exhibits, as she attempts to get Ben to “love” her. Likewise, Ben’s acquiescence and his apparent ability to ignore all of Andie’s insanity in order to achieve his goal, will ring true with many viewers.

Unfortunately, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is one of the most woefully miscast films that I’ve ever seen. In short, Hudson and McConaughey are totally wrong for their roles, and this directly affects the film. Hudson is supposed to be a serious journalist who is forced to suppress her intellect for her demeaning job. Yet, at no point in the film do we get that feeling that Andie is either intelligent or serious. She has for too much fun with her “research” for the audience to like her. On the other hand, McConaughey is far too likable. We are supposed to feel that Ben is a blow-hard braggart who needs his comeuppance. But, McConaughey is simply to charming and laid-back to be unliked. Women find him attractive, and men feel that they could hang out with him, and that doesn’t help the film. The movie needed an actress who could have pulled off the serious aspect, such as Ashley Judd or even McConaughey’s buddy Sandra Bullock. The role of Ben called for a handsome actor who can be seen as a jerk, such as Colin Farrell or Russell Crowe (not that either of them would have done this film). The fact that these two actors don’t fit into their roles hurts a film that has a clever premise and delivers some funny moments, but offers little else.

Considering the fact that How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is not only a recent theatrical release, but a major hit as well, the technical qualities of the DVD release are surprising. The film is actually available on two separate DVD releases, one widescreen and the other full screen. For the purposes of this review, the widescreen version was viewed. For this release, the film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 Tvs. The image looks shockingly rough for a movie this new. There is a considerable amount of grain visible in every shot. Also, some scenes look blurry and there is noticeable pixilation at times. The colors are very good, and that does add an illusion of clarity to the image, but overall, the transfer is very rough. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue, music, and sound effects, but little else. There are some examples of surround sound action during the street and crowd scenes, and some bass response from the musical score, but the audio doesn’t utilize the surround sound speakers all that often. Still, in a film such as this, it’s the dialogue which is most important.

The DVD contains several extras features, some of which are quite frustrating. We start with an audio commentary from director Donald Petrie. This is a good talk, as he’s very enthusiastic about the film and speaks at length about each scene, discussing the actors, the production, and the story. He is easy to understand and there are only a few places where he pauses. Petrie’s commentary continues on the five deleted scenes which are included here. (Although, they can be viewed without his comments.) These scenes are relatively short, but they are interesting. However, as the finished film is nearly two hours long, it’s understandable why they were cut. And there is a music video for the song “Somebody Like You” by Keith Urban.

Now, for the weird part. There is a section in the extras entitled “Mapping Out the Perfect Movie”. This section contains 15 subsections which focus on the actors, the characters, and the primary creative crew. These segments are each a few minutes long. The question is, why wasn’t this edited together into one long featurette? There is no “PLAY ALL” option, so it will take a while to work through all 15 sections. They do contain some good info, but it’s a lot of work. Similarly, the “Mapping Out the Perfect Location” section has a map of Manhattan, where one can select from 9 different locations and view info about that site. Still, this could have been edited together as well.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days had a lot of promise, but the cast can’t live up to the material, which is lightweight to begin with. The DVD is a disappointment as well, as the transfer is of questionable quality.

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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