When I think of great movie couples, I think Tracy and Hepburn, or Bogart and Bacall. And while Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson have starred in two films together now (the other being 2008's Fool's Gold), I'm still trying to figure this out: if two people are going to make a third film together, and nobody cared about the other two films, does it really make it a cinematic trilogy? To be fair to the filmmakers, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days made over $100 million domestically as a romantic comedy released in February 2003, but the film sure hasn't aged gracefully.
Based on the book by Michele Alexander and Jeanie Long, and directed by Donald Petrie (My Life in Ruins), Hudson plays Andie Anderson, columnist/self-help guru for the fictional beauty magazine Composure. She advises women how to feng shui their apartments or talk their way out of speeding tickets, but her next project may be the most enticing. After a friend of hers was dumped, she takes up the task of writing an article titled "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." It's a daunting obligation - doing everything girls shouldn't do in a relationship to a randomly chosen guy - but she thinks it can be done.
And that's where McConaughey comes into play. As advertising executive Ben, he works for his boss Philip (Robert Klein) to help land DeLauer Diamonds as a client. However, Ben has competition in two female coworkers for the account. The girls and his boss agree that if Ben can make a woman of their choice fall in love with him by the date of the big DeLauer gala, he's got a chance to pitch the account. Later in a bar, Ben finds Andie, who is selected by Ben's coworkers as a suitable subject for him to work his magic. Consequently, Andie sees Ben as the perfect man for her article.
Sounds confusing? It's not really. They're both using the other for ulterior motives. Andie does all the things that are designed to repel a man; Ben takes them all in stride because he's just holding out to win the bet. The problem is that this comedic setup tends to drag on, to the point where you feel each and every one of these days playing out real time, particularly as Andie comes off as the whiny, overly possessive girlfriend every few minutes.
There is the requisite redemption in the second act, particularly when Andie realizes that she's falling for Ben. You can sense the earnest feelings between one another, both in the genuine caring that Ben starts to have for Andie, and the longing glances that Andie has towards Ben. There's a certain look of infatuation that Hudson does very well and it shows in the film. I can see why people enjoyed the pairing of these two actors as they did.
So although they manage a promising second act, it doesn't quite make up for a lousy and slow first act. The hook is implausible, for me anyway, and the underlying reason why Ben cares for Andie and the subplot of him wanting her to realize her aspirations of writing more than just beauty articles is barely covered. The movie spends too much time reveling in what they think is a fun first act, but it feels like 45 minutes of nails against a chalkboard. For the ladies reading this, if you ever want to lose a guy, play him this movie, and the 60 Minutes stopwatch won't have time to make an entire revolution before he's gone.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Paramount adorns How to Lose a Guy with an AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1.85:1 high- definition presentation. And when I say "adorns," I mean "doesn't really do anything with it on high definition." Blacks are consistent though not really deep, background depth is scarce and can only be found on the occasional exterior shot, and image detail both in the foreground and backgrounds are lacking. There's nothing that stands out after watching the film on Blu-ray, other than there's nothing that stands out about it.
The soundtrack is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track to go along with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 options. This is one of the weaker tracks I've heard in recent memory. Dialogue is unbalanced and soft in many areas of the film, and it's devoid of any speaker panning, directional effects or subwoofer engagement. And I say all this knowing the film is a dialogue-driven romantic comedy devoid of any action or sonic immersion. Paramount should do a little bit better by their catalog titles, no matter how distasteful they might be.
It appears that the a couple of extras from the original release ("Mapping Out the Perfect Movie" and "Mapping Out the Perfect Location") have been dropped and replaced by other extras, and a Deluxe Edition was released day and date with this Blu-ray. Petrie's commentary has been retained for the track, and it's not earth shattering in terms of its revelations. He talks about the things they shot (and subsequently cut) and recalls the shot/scene intentions. He remembers the supporting cast choices made for the film, and his thought on everyone's work during the production. You're not going to learn too much after listening to his track. The deleted scenes (5, 9:30) include an optional commentary track, and aside from a deleted scene in the opening montage, you're not missing much.
The first of three new supplements is "How to Make a Movie in Two Years" (16:54), a crew-exclusive look at making the film, starting with Alexander and Long's inspirations for putting the book together, to producers Christine Peters and Lynda Obst discussing what they liked about it, andhow they got financing and secured the cast. They talk about the difficult preproduction process and Petrie's personality influence on the cast. While it's nice to see this nontraditional look at making a feature, some cast participation would have been nice. Next is "Why the Sexes Battle" (5:00), which examines this very reason from two relationship experts' points of view and how the characters would fit into a real-life fabric. The last new segment is "Girls Night Out" (5:15), wherein the authors provide some more details about why they decided to do a book. A music video by Keith Urban (3:53) is the last extra on the disc.
My wife finds How to Lose a Guy cute and funny. I love my wife and I watch quite a few romantic comedies with her, but I think she's wrong on this one. The film is too long to have the charming attribute of a sweet yet fleeting heart, and the extras are an insomniac's test. I wouldn't recommend double-dipping to the standard definition "Deluxe Edition," let alone for this Blu-ray.