Feather-light and sugary enough (what other movie would give its main character a name as cutesy as Andie Anderson? - no offense to any Andie Andersons out there) to cause tooth decay, "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days" works only as well as it does thanks to the two lead performances. Despite the fact that I believe I called him one of the worst new actors once, twice - maybe several times - earlier in his career, Matthew McConaughey has recently begun to show considerable skill with both comedy and drama in films like "U-571" and the throwaway "Wedding Planner". Kate Hudson shined in "Almost Famous", and here she shows that she can superbly play the kind of edge-of-silliness comedic timing that her mother (Goldie Hawn) often played so well.
The film revolves around an absurd contrivance, although one might expect that from a screenplay that was somehow constructed out of a "how to" book on modern romance. Andie is the hot columnist at Composure magazine, an equally hot women's magazine that resembles one of countless magazines that one can find today. She's got a Masters degree and desires to write about things more important, but right now, Andie's focus is dating, romance and what to wear. Her latest column is regarding "How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days". In other words, how to try and act the way that will drive a guy away.
Meanwhile, Ben has bet his ad agency co-workers that he can make Andie fall in love with him within ten days. They spot each other across a crowded bar and set their sights on each other, each with their own motives.
For the next 10 days, Andie tries to do everything within her power to drive Ben away, while Ben tries to keep it together for the 10 days to win an account at his agency. Will they find out that each of them was bet regarding the other? Ooooh, gee, I dunno! Sarcasm aside, adding to the problem of predictability is the fact that "10 Days" is a good 15 minutes too long (there's no reason this should have clocked in at more than 100 minutes). There's no reason a romantic comedy like this needed to drag things out towards the two-hour mark.
But - I still did find aspects of the movie enjoyable. Hudson's timing is delightful and her performance - despite her character's actions - is adorable. Her delivery gets some surprisingly big laughs out of hokey material. McConaughey plays off her well, and the two have fine chemistry together. Bebe Neuwirth is also quite funny as Andie's editor. The movie occasionally takes Andie's quest to drive Ben away into edgy and imaginative (and potentially creepy and unstable) territory, too, but the movie takes a few steps back before it turns into a light version of "War of the Roses".
Despite the absurdity involved in the plot, once "10 Days" gets going, there's potential and two capable stars. However, the movie just doesn't take risks - when it seems like it may, it retreats. Overall, the movie isn't as good as it could have been, but without Hudson, I can imagine it being potentially a whole lot worse.
VIDEO: "How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is only a little above-average, which is surprising, given Paramount's recent track record. Sharpness and detail are only fair, but that's likely due to John Bailey's warm, soft, rom-com cinematography.
The picture does suffer from a tad of edge enhancement, but the main problem I noticed was a surprising amount of print flaws. While nothing too serious, I expect a recently released film to look nearly spotless. "10 Days", on the other hand, had several scenes that showed some noticable specks and marks on the print used. Compression artifacts were not spotted.
Colors remained bright and warm throughout, with nice saturation. Black level seemed a tad weak, while flesh tones looked generally natural. Overall, a decent presentation, but I was expecting somewhat better.
SOUND: "How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days" is presented by Paramount in Dolby Digital 5.1. As one might expect, this is a largely a "comedy" soundtrack; in other words, aside from a few instances here and there, things occur largely in the front speakers. The film does offer a few instances of decent surround use - for example, there's plenty of ambience at a basketball game that takes place in the surrounds - but other than that, this is mostly dialogue-driven fare. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue remained natural and clean.
EXTRAS: Extras include a commentary from director Donald Petrie, as well as short featurettes on both the film's locations and many members of both the cast and crew. 5 deleted scenes w/commentary from director Donald Petrie and previews for "The Core", "Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" and the "Indiana Jones DVD Trilogy" round out the package.
Final Thoughts: While better than I expected (largely thanks to performances), "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days" still suffers from being predictable and overlong. Paramount's DVD edition provides satisfactory picture and audio, as well as a few good supplements. A recommended rental.
The Film ** 1/2