How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

How to Lose a Guy attains chick-flick status by our classic objective definition: any film is a chick-flick if the female rating at IMDb is one point or more higher than the male rating. This film receives a 5.9 from men, 7.1 from women. Within chick-flicks, there are two sub-categories:  Teenage Chick-flicks like Legally Blonde, and Granny Chick-flicks like Ya-Ya Sisterhood. This one is a teenage chick-flick because it scores highest with the youngest voters, and the scores decrease with the age of the demographic group. It's a Sandra Bullock movie without Sandra Bullock, or as that entity is now known, a Kate Hudson movie.

The total structure of the chick-flick category looks something like this:

Granny Flicks Weepfests Dread Diseases
Tragic Lost or Unrevealed Loves
Mother-Daughter connections
Romances People Hate One Another at First
Mistaken Identity
Person in love with a long-time acquaintance who can't see their inner beauty at first
Teenybopper Flicks Weepfests Dread Diseases
Tragic Lost Loves
Romances Irritating Cross-Purposes
People Hate One Another at First
Mistaken Identity
Person in love with a long-time acquaintance who can't see their inner beauty at first
The lame gimmick
Awakened by a crush on a gentle older man

All chick-flicks basically come in two varieties, romantic fluff and extremely tragic weepfests, so after you mention that a film is a standard formula Hollywood romantic comedy, there's only so much more to add.

There are several sub-divisions of the Teenage Chick-flick, romantic comedy division, and this one comes from the "irritating cross-purposes" sub-division, with a touch of "the lame gimmick" as well. In every form of romantic comedy, it is essential to maintain some kind of tension in the audience. This is our foreplay, creating a build-up which is released when the suitors finally come together, as they inevitably must. There are plenty of ways to do this, but films from the "irritating cross-purposes" sub-division do it by making the audience as uncomfortable as possible. Two common techniques:

Irritation Method 1: The characters narrowly miss each other over and over again throughout the movie. One boards the train to Chicago while the other disembarks from the next car down. One gets out of the elevator on the 11th floor just a second after the other has entered the adjoining elevator, etc. The first time a film did this, about three days after films were invented, it was kinda cute but stupid. If a latter day film does it once, it's lame but forgivable. If any movie does it more than once, all negatives and prints of that film should be destroyed, and the writer should be executed publicly, preferably by guillotine in a third world country that can't afford to sharpen the blade.

Irritation Method 2: The characters make a bet. One falls in love, and gets really pissed off when he/she finds out that the other person was simply courting them to win a bet. Well, of course the bettor really fell in love in the course of that faux courtship, and then has to win the offended party back for real.

This particular film takes irritation method number two to the limit - as stoners used to say, "to the royal max". Both parties have a bet or something like a bet. Matthew is an advertising dude who will get a chance to pitch an important female client if he can demonstrate his charm by getting a woman to fall in love with him in ten days. Kate writes for a magazine like Cosmo, and is doing an ironic article on how to lose a great man in ten days by committing every possible dating faux pas. To make the article realistic, she needs a real man for her experiment. As luck would have it, in a city the size of New York, these two people with diametrically opposed ten day projects begin their ten days on the same day. With each other.

Who would have dreamed?

A Hollywood script writer, for one.

Oh, well, you have the idea, right? They hook up at a party. They have a "normal" first date to set the hook, and agree to continue dating. From then on, he tries to be Mr. Charm while she tries to get him to dump her.

He spends all day making roast of lamb in cherry sauce, then she says meat makes her vomit. She forces him to sit through Fried Green Tomatoes and an entire chick-flick marathon. She screws up his enjoyment of every game while the Knicks are winning the NBA finals. (Talk about unlikely romantic fantasies!). She ruins his poker night with the boys. She makes him show love for a really obnoxious little over-manicured dog which pees on his beloved poker table. As Yul Brynner would say if he were here, "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera".



DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by director Donald Petrie

  • Cast & Crew Interviews

  • 5 Deleted Scenes with Director's Commentary

  • Mapping Out the Perfect Location - featurette

  • Music Video - "Somebody Like You" by Keith Urban

  • Widescreen anamorphic format, approximately 1.7:1

I don't much care for "irritating cross-purposes" movies, because they eventually require us to want the lovers to come together, after we have seen that one of them is an insincere asshole capable of using someone without thinking about their feelings. In this case,  both of them are insincere assholes who use other people without considering their feelings, so I guess that makes it OK. They deserve one another.

If you like this sort of thing, the production values are fine, Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are pretty good at this, and

... take it, Yul ...

 "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera".

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: two stars. Ebert 1.5/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It was highly successful with young female audiences, and grossed $105 million.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Typical, run-of-the-mill Hollywood romantic comedy.

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