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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: Deluxe Edition

Paramount // PG-13 // August 25, 2009
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Casey Burchby | posted August 10, 2009 | E-mail the Author

I'm not sure what to say about How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. It's really bad - like an episode of Sex in the City written by the staff of Full House. Like a lot of A-list films, it feels as though this one was made not because someone had an urge to tell a particular story, but because someone was able to get two bankable stars to work together.

Let's start with the very gimmicky concept: Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) writes a how-to column for a women's magazine called Composure and her latest assignment is to date a guy and then get him to dump her. This is all in the interest of showing the magazine's female readers - and Andie's hapless lovelorn friend - all of the ways in which women unconsciously drive men away. Meanwhile, Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey), an advertising executive, is within reach of managing a new - and very big - account. He needs to impress the boss, however, and makes a bet against two rival lady co-workers that he can make a woman fall in love with him in ten days; if he wins, he gets the account. With these tortured contrivances in place, the "fun" begins, with Andie and Ben meeting that very same night. Predictable hijinx ensue, as our protagonists pursue their disparate goals, and in the course of things they actually fall in love - for real!

Listen, I am not immune to the charms of romantic comedies. I feel no shame when I admit that I have seen every episode - that's right - of Sex and the City, and admire everything from My Man Godfrey to My Best Friend's Wedding. But this movie stinks. Most of the blame lies with the script. I am convinced that this movie went into production without a complete one, because plot development here is ever so sketchy and the comic set-ups are notably devoid of... well... comedy. On the plus side, some of the dialogue feels refreshingly improvised, especially that spoken by capable co-stars Adam Goldberg and Thomas Lennon, who play McConaughey's advertising colleagues. But I wonder if the actors weren't forced to improvise by having nothing to work with in the first place.

The leads' performances here are not awful, but are difficult to judge in the absence of any challenge to their talents. Frankly, I find Kate Hudson cloying and prettily self-absorbed as an actor and can't think of a movie where I was intrigued by her presence. Some of the same things can be said about McConaughey, even though I think his sense of self-parody has opened up his range a little - especially with his role in last year's Tropic Thunder. His devoted, Wii Tennis-playing agent was a highlight for me. However, neither star is allowed much freedom here; they seem to have been bound to the very poor script by a director who doesn't trust them - or himself - to do a little exploring around the very fuzzy edges of their characters. That director, by the way, is Donald Petrie. A look at his past credits explains some of what is wrong with this movie.

In the end, what nails the coffin shut is the fact that there are simply no surprises here. Situations meant to be funny are dull. Comic sensibility is replaced by one-upsmanship - a piling-on of situational elements that are supposed to raise the comic stakes. An example of this would be the climactic scene where Andie and Ben "sing" a duet of "You're So Vain." The situation holds comic potential, and yet there are no jokes to sustain it. There's no "material" there for the actors to make funny. Hence the pall that hangs over How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days like the disappointed ghosts of William Powell and Myrna Loy.


The Package
This new release is a Deluxe Edition of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I am surprised that the film's life on DVD has been robust enough to merit a second release. The single disc is housed in a standard keepcase, with a glitzy pink card slipcover. The front panel of the slipcover opens to reveal Andie Anderson's list of ways to lose a guy in ten days; it's a cute idea. The front panel features a small Velcro closure.

The Video
Paramount's enhanced 1.85:1 transfer is quite nice. I should note here that the film was shot using some very chintzy 1970s-style soft focus techniques that come across as dated and inappropriate. I can't fathom why anyone in this day and age (who isn't shooting Barbara Walters) would choose these silly methods. That aside, the technical aspects of the transfer are fine. Colors, though muted in some places, generally pop. Blacks are deep, and artifacts are at a minimum.

The Audio
A crisp, but not hugely dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the primary mix. Music and dialogue are both very well represented, as is appropriate for a romantic comedy. Sound effects, especially surrounds, are limited, but don't have a significant function in the film anyway. Not fancy, but a good track. Dubbed Spanish and French 5.1 tracks are optional, as are English, Spanish, and French subtitles.

The Extras
There is a commentary track with director Donald Petrie. I didn't make it past the fifteen-minute mark with this one. Petrie is amiable, affable, and dull. There is a featurette on the gestation of the book and movie called How to Make a Movie in 2 Years (16:54). Next, we have a short compilation of cast and crew talking heads answering the question of Why the Sexes Battle (5:01). Something called Girls Night Out (5:17) features the authors of the film's source book. There is a music video for Keith Urban's song "Somebody Like You," and a few deleted scenes (9:30) with optional Petrie commentary.

Final Thoughts

Deadly uninvolving from start to predictable finish, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days might possibly be enjoyed by sad girls below the age of 25 home alone on a Friday night. The best thing that can be said about this movie is that it is unoffensive. But really, this is two hours that would be better spent cleaning grout with a toothbrush. Skip it.

Casey Burchby lives in Northern California: Twitter, Tumblr.

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