If Andie can make a guy dump her in ten days, she will be allowed to advance in her journalism career. If Ben can make a woman fall in love with him in ten days, he will earn the biggest advertising account of his life.
The reason most chick flicks fail to work with male audiences is because they are usually shown only from the female point of view. Guys watch the movie and realize this kind of shit never happens in real life. The ugly, poor guys don’t end up with the girl at the end of the day. The ugly girl doesn’t suddenly become a beauty queen to win out in the end. The cool girls who look like famous actresses don’t exist in most parts of the real world. These movies are fairy tales for women but remain myths for men.
Why How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days work for me, a male, is the fact that what happens in the movie, while exaggerated, contains things I recognize from women in the real world. It is still told from the female point of view, and the guy in the movie remains an idiot at points, but it is more accessible for males than most films of this nature.
Kate Hudson is Andie, a writer for a fashion magazine who wants to write about important things, like religion, politics and world issues. Instead, she is stuck writing “How To” columns, ranging from getting out of a ticket to dressing like a star. Thanks to the predicament of friend and coworker Michelle, a girl who can’t keep a relationship to save her life, she agrees to write an article about how to lose a boyfriend in less than ten days by doing everything wrong.
Matthew McConaughey is Ben, a man’s man. He works for an advertising agency and is best at selling ads meant for guys (beer, sports, etc…). However, much like Andie, he has higher aspirations. He wants to help sell advertising for a diamond company, setting himself up for the biggest commission of his life. When two female coworkers cock block him in this endeavor, he makes a bet that he can sell himself to any woman and agrees to make anyone they choose fall in love with him in 10 days. If he wins, he gets the account.
It is no surprise these two are put together because that is just how these tales play out. That means for the movie to work, these two lead actors must allow the movie to rest on their shoulders. That is easier said than done. While Kate Hudson was looking to be the next best thing after Almost Famous, she has faltered in crap like Fool’s Gold, My Best Friend’s Girl and Bride Wars. McConaughey has been even a bigger disappointment, going from the most iconic role of his career (“Say man, you got a joint? It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”) to movies like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. In this film, both performers carry their weight and shows what might have been, and hopefully what might still be again.
McConaughey comes out of the movie better, the guy we all wish we were. Women love him. He can get good tickets to NBA Championship games. He has a freaking pool table in his office and has poker nights with his buddies (including the always entertaining Adam Goldberg and Thomas Lemmon). He wants this job so bad he is willing to put up with the psychotic advances of Andie. Kate Hudson plays Andie with a good level of humor, proving that she might be better off taking more comic roles as opposed to generic chick flicks.
There are points that the movie slips overboard. Andie oftentimes becomes so annoying that you can’t believe any deal would be worth carrying this charade out. She is so demented and psychotic at points, you question why Ben would fall in love with her by the end. But that is where a movie like this will always lead. Despite the attraction for male viewers, it is still a female fantasy and there is nowhere to go but the “happily ever after” ending with this story.
The direction to get there remains interesting. Director Donald Petrie has directed both chick flicks like Mystic Pizza and one of my guilty pleasures, Opportunity Knocks. That shows me why he is able to carry out the complex guy/girl storyline here but, looking at how his career has regressed since this movie (My Life in Ruins), I wonder if he hasn’t peaked already. The true stars of the movie are the original source novel’s authors Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long. The two women wanted to show exactly how obsessive women can ruin any relationship. Their memoirs were enough to make this movie an interesting proposition. It is not the best chick flick a guy can watch, but there are worse ways to spend an evening with your woman.
There is an audio commentary track with director Donald Petrie that is engaging. He talks about the determination to make the two lead characters likeable throughout their escapades. He also offers up tidbits of behind-the-scenes anecdotes that keeps the track flowing. There are a number of deleted scenes with director commentary, including an alternate opening. None of them would have added to the story and are better sitting on the sidelines.
How to Make a Movie in Two Years is a short look at the creation process of the movie, including the tidbits that the original book was developed by the two female authors while usually out drinking, writing the ideas on cocktail napkins. Girls Night Out is a talk with these two women and might have been better just implemented in the previous documentary. Why the Sexes Battle is a pretty crappy feature where two psychologists try to explain the dating process. The best part of the movie is the lead actors who are MIA from all these features, so that is a big knock on the DVD.
Finally, there is a music video for Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You”, which might be an attraction to Nicole Kidman, but that’s about it.