"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, May 25, 2008

DVD Review: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

I'm sure you know the basic premise of this movie: girl gets assignment to write an article on how to lose a guy in ten days, guy takes a bet that he can make any woman fall in love with him in ten days. Nice setup. So, why aren't I laughing?

This is a classic battle of the sexes, mistaken identity comedy, the kind audiences have been entertained by for centuries. I kept thinking this was a 60's movie, that Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant or even Doris Day and Rock Hudson would have taken the premise and made into a classic out of it. Was it just the actors?

Matthew McConaughey is a very handsome man, but he's not a very good actor. He delivers his lines in a steady monotone, as he does in pretty much every movie I've ever seen him in. There's no inflection in his voice, and he doesn't know how to milk a scene, which is necessary in comedy. He may be eye candy for the ladies, but the movie flatlines every time he's on the screen.

Kate Hudson is a pretty good actress - you can really see her mother's influnce on her comedy skills in this movie - but she can't carry this film. For one, her character lacks a foil to work off of - McConaughey is much too serious. Plus the script has her being a bit too obnoxious for my liking. There's a nasty edge to the plot to dump her guy, and that just doesn't work in a comedy.

If this were a 60's movie, you'd have an entire ensemble of comedians playing secondary roles to keep the laughter going. But here, the supporting cast draws a blank. Hudson's boss at the magazine should have been played for humor, but instead she's mean-spirited and controlling. The two female rivals at McConaughey's advertising firm are conniving and hard. The only bit players who understand this is a comedy are Robert Klein and the jeweler's wife.

As a love story, it doesn't really work either because you're left wondering at the final scene where they reconcile on the Brooklyn Bridge whether these two really know each other. I mean, they've been role playing the entire movie, and except for a brief moment at his parent's house, they really never let their guards down. They look good together, and I guess in this modern era of movie making, that's supposed to be enough.

Mildly entertaining and funny at times, but I'd have to consider this movie so-so.

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