How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days (2003) 1/2 *
Directed by Donald Petrie. Written by Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan, Burr Steers, from a book by Michele Alexander, Jeannie Long. Photography, John Bailey. Editing, Debra Neil-Fisher. Production design, Therese DePrez. Music editing, Dana Millman-Dufine. Produced by Lynda Obst, Robert Evans, Christine Peters. Cast: Kate Hudson ,Matthew McConaughey, et al. A Paramount release. 2 hours. PG-13
Awful junk. From Frame One overdone, overdumb, overplayed, overtalky, underwhelming.
"Composure" is a women's magazine that should have been called "Compost." Its staff is one of gabby girls with overly nasal voices-unlike the OK accents of TV network announcers. The ladies (a few redheads, several brunettes, many blondes) mostly come under the heading of babes and bimbos.
Staffer Andie (Hudson) ambitions writing about important, serious things, such as war or politics. But "Composure" is not that sort of publication. So Andie comes up with a project (the movie's title: she will seduce a man, put him through the grinder, dump him, then relate in print her "adventure." That's as idiotic as most stupid "how to" articles, only dumber.
Cut to Ben (Matthew McConaughey.) He is in advertising, wants to work on a classy account -diamonds. To prove his talent he bets his outfit that he can seduce a woman within 10 days.
You guessed it. Andie and Ben meet and start a virginal affair based on her frustrating him to the max and on his putting up with it. You also guess that the two will also fall in love.
They become a lightning-fast item of sorts --within a society of fatuous, smug, inane types. The artifices include the couple's agreement that "all is fair in love and war." She: "I want you to respect me." This means no copulation.
I am too depressed by the film's imbecility to detail the plot. It suffices to say that "acting" and "posing" are so blatantly artificial that "Sex in the City" is a masterpiece by comparison.
Scene after scene underlines this work's basic anti-feminism, not planned perhaps but present. Also anti-masculinism, but it is less stressed, mostly because there are many more females than males in the set-up. Insipidity rules the full collection of characters, central and supporting. The basic idea is a Hollywood cliché, in some ways a distant cousin of the near-classic "The Shop Around the Corner," its remake "In the Good Old Summertime," the nice "You've Got Mail," and many others. While it might have been handled in a passable way, say, as a screwball comedy, it is a yawner, a protracted mess in which no character, central or peripheral, convinces or even entertains you. The two principals are unappealing.
All this deserves no stars but I settled for one-half because the musical score includes fleetingly "Bye, Bye, Blackbird," and "Isn't it Romantic."
Billy Wilder (1906-2002) how we miss you!