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“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”

“Lose a Guy” has star power, a good marketing campaign and an audience primed by reality TV shows like “Joe Millionaire” and “The Bachelorette.” The movie won’t disappoint. But, like the shows, it should cause critical minds to think about the phenomenon of relationship as game.

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” opening nationwide tomorrow, plays off this publishing trend. In fact, the movie is based on a book, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don’ts of Dating, by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long. 

Seeing how we live in a how-to world, this movie’s title and premise seem engaging. Watching it seems about as natural as, well, looking at the magazines by the grocery checkout. 

“Lose a Guy” stars Hollywood hotties Kate Hudson (daughter of Goldie Hawn) and Matthew McConaughey, who will give audiences an advanced course in onscreen chemistry. 

Hudson plays Andie Anderson, the “how to” columnist for Composure magazine. But she’s tired of staff meetings where “Botox for Beginners” pops up as a story idea, and fashions, trends and “salacious gossip” are the order of the publishing day. Instead, she wants to apply her Columbia master’s in journalism to politics, religion and world affairs.  

But the route to her dreams lies on the other side of yet another “how to” assignment: how to lose a guy. In other words, Andie will write a column about the things women shouldn’t do if they want to keep a man. 

Because “five days is too short and we go to press in 11,” Andie’s boss gives her 10 days to get and lose the guy. Thus, the time constraint—a screenwriting staple—is established. 

Meanwhile, advertising agent Benjamin Barry (McConaughey) is trying to persuade his boss to let him be the point-man for a new ad campaign with a high-profile jeweler. In the course of his persuasion, Ben says he can sell anything—even himself. 

So Ben and his boss make a bet: If Ben can “sell himself” to a woman—that is, make her fall in love with him—in 10 days, he’ll get to manage the new ad campaign.

Andie and Ben, both having their own agenda, bump into each other, and the stage is set. After their first date, Ben proudly says to himself about Andie, “You are already falling in love with me.” 

Little does he know that she’s telling herself about him, “I’m going to make you wish you were dead.” 

She’s clingy, needy and touchy-feely. She becomes, in the words of an increasingly frustrated but determined Ben, like “a crack-enhanced Kathie Lee Gifford.” 

Her specific strategies for losing the guy are too hilarious to ruin here. But they are hilarious, and they will no doubt make for spirited water-cooler conversations about relationship maintenance and sabotage. 

Hudson and McConaughey show keen timing and buttress mostly good writing and direction. After the film’s climax, however, the movie drags on about 10 minutes longer than necessary, violating a basic film rule: When it’s really over, stop.  

Of course, “Lose a Guy” is all about deception—and the conflict that flows from it. Andie and Ben are essentially playing a game framed around relationship.  

At one point, she asks him, “All’s fair in love and war?”  

“True,” he answers, agreeing with the sentiment expressed more elaborately by Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, who said, “Love and war are the same thing, and stratagems and polity are as allowable in the one as in the other.” 

Don Quixote wasn’t thinking about “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” But audiences likely will be when they approach the box office for tickets. 

“Lose a Guy” has star power, a good marketing campaign and an audience primed by reality TV shows like “Joe Millionaire” and “The Bachelorette.” 

The movie won’t disappoint. But, like the shows, it should cause critical minds to think about the phenomenon of relationship as game. 

Cliff Vaughn is associate director for EthicsDaily.com. 

Visit the movie’s official Web site

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sex-related material

Director: Donald Petrie

Writers: Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan and Burr Steers

Cast: Andie Anderson: Kate Hudson; Benjamin Barry: Matthew McConaughey; Tony: Adam Goldberg; Spears: Michael Michele; Green: Shalom Harlow; Lana Jong: Bebe Neuwirth; Phillip Warren: Robert Klein; Thayer: Thomas Lennon.