In "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," the New York Knicks make it to game 7 in the NBA championship series. That is probably the most obscure thought to comprehend, especially if you're a Knicks fan. But after comparing that to everything else that happens this movie, I'm thinking about calling Vegas.
I've done the math. After writing out the number of movies made since the invention of the motion picture, and summing up the number of movies with the same romantic comedy plot, I predict that from now-through the next 10 years, about 53.2 movies will be made about a guy or girl making a bet that his partner will fall in love with him/her by a certain deadline. But I didn't use "10 Days" in the equation, because unlike every other movie, this one has two bets.
Anyone with any interest in this movie already knows the basic summary of the plot, even before going into the theater. We all know it's about two likable characters who are out to prove something by dating someone, not knowing both of them are being conned. What we don't know is how the game is set up. The female writes a magazine column and we don't know the male's job, but we want to find out. Trust me when I tell you that the way the game is set up couldn't have been any more idiotic.
Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is one of the hottest writers for "Composure" magazine, the top selling magazine for women. She writes the "how-to" column and offers the typical female tips and suggestions for fashion, dating and all the rest. But Andie isn't satisfied with her current job. She wants to write about politics (haha), the economy (even funnier), or anything that doesn't appeal only to brainless teens. After all, she does have a masters degree in journalism from Columbia (no longer funny).
Her wired-on-caffeine editor, Lana (Bebe Neuwirth) agrees to allow Andie more freedom in choosing what to write about, after she completes the ultimate assignment. Until then, "How to Bring Peace to Tajikistan," will have to go unpublished.
When a fellow co-worker suffers a traumatic breakup, Andie must write a "dating how-not-to" column. It's a tutorial in how to drive a man away in a week and a half by doing all the "clingy, needy, whiny and touchy-feely things" that result in men promptly ending the relationship. She will find an actual man to date for 10 days, hoping he will kick her to the curb by the last day.
The man Andie will use for her experiment is Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey), an advertising spokesperson who is playing a game of his own. If you think Andie's reason for going along with the experiment is ridiculous, Ben's case is even worse. When he learns that the next campaign will be led by two females (Shalom Harlow and Michael Michele), he gets his boss to make a bet with him. If he can get any woman to fall in love with him in 10 days time, then the ad gig will be his. This will somehow prove he can sell diamonds better than the two girls can, and the boss agrees to the bet. Harlow and Michele's character will do whatever is in their power to make sure Ben loses. Call them the wicked step-sisters if you want to.
What’s even sadder than the plot are the persons who wrote this, all five of them. For a romantic comedy, there is little to laugh about. One hilarious side-note is that between five writers, the best they can do when coming up with names for the lead characters are Andie Anderson and Benjamin Barry.
I did keep in mind that this is a fantasy New York and I wanted to enjoy this film, but the unlikely things that take place wouldn't let me. Not only are the Knicks (with its current roster) in the NBA finals; both Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are single, even with their good looks and prestigious careers. The females in the audience will enjoy a gratuitous shot of McConaughey changing shirts in his office. The camera pans his body while all the lady co-workers drool behind the glass window. How lucky for them that Ben doesn't like to dress at home.
Readers, I tried to be as open-minded as possible while watching this film, as I normally do even during predictable comedies. An important thing for me is original humor and witty jokes. None are present in "10 Days." Instead, our team of five writers resort to lame jokes, a dog who likes to urinate on pool tables frequently, and the most unneeded and out-of-place toilet humor I've seen recently.
The movie gets more ridiculous as its story progresses. The climax is embarrassing as Andie and Ben somehow find their way on a stage singing a duet together. When they finally learn that the other was just dating them as part of a bet/lab experiment, they become so shocked at how "you used me like that!" Well duh, you did the same thing!
It's unfortunate that McConaughey and Hudson are the victims who play these roles. They're usually likable people and they have a good chemistry together, but Anderson's purposeful attempts to get Barry to break up with her are just plain annoying. While at a restaurant, Andie shouts that Ben thinks she's fat. She runs into the bathroom while crying and all the women in the restaurant give Ben the evil eye. He gets really angry, but forgets about it by the next scene.
But crying wolf is only one of the many tricks Andie has up her sleeve. Prepare for chick-flick marathons and busted-up poker games during guys night out. Andie's failed attempts at getting Ben to break up with her get more severe every time, and much more irritating to watch.
Why a movie that deserves no more than 90 minutes almost gets two hours is beyond me. Let's put some questions on the table that I'm sure none of the five writers thought of:
1. Why must Anderson actually date a man to write her column? Can't she just write what she knows will work? She knows why guys break up with women, so she should just write it. We can't like her character because she wants to put a real person through this, especially since he will more than likely find out when the column runs in next month's issue.
2. Isn't it too convenient that Andie purposely tries to anger Ben by making him get her a soda at a Knicks game right when the winning shot is scored? Isn't it too convenient that the supervisors of the bet (their bosses) are close friends and attend the same functions? Isn't it too convenient that there's a chick-flick marathon screening the weekend that Andie can use it to deter Ben?
3. Couldn't one of the five writers think up something with a little brains? How serious can we take Ben's ad agency, run by Philip Warren (a smirky Robert Klein) who chooses who will handle million dollar accounts by the result of a childish bet? Did Hudson's character really need to be a political guru? She writes for a fashion magazine. Not even the most liberal editor would allow her to write about a country that the majority of her readers can't even spell.
I can go on, but I'm sure I got the point across. I will say this though--many of the women who were at the advance screening seemed to enjoy it somewhat. If anyone should see this movie, it should only be groups of girlfriends, even then a good time isn't guaranteed.
I don't know what's more rare this year: good comedy or good horror? It's early February and I've yet to see a good movie of either genre. I can only hope this negative trend will end before we inevitably get another "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days Even Though You'll Fall In Love With Him In The End" movie.