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HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS (article first published : 2003-06-1)

Yes, it offers a silly plot that's yawnfully predictable and, yes, it has been done before, in different variations, a thousand times. But there's something about its fun and froth that makes this glossy new romantic comedy not only tolerable but rather enjoyable.

It's from Donald Petrie, the director who gave us the hit Miss Congeniality and much of its charm stems from the chemistry of its cute, likeable leads. They are Goldie Hawn's daughter, Kate Hudson, and Matthew McConaughey who, as magazine columnist Andie and ambitious advertising executive Ben, go home with each other after a night in a pub and a quick exchange of words.

Each, however, has a hidden agenda.

Andie writes a column called How to... and, as the film title implies, her latest assignment is to do research to illustrate how to dump a beau within a fortnight, serving him all the stereotypical experiences that should drive him. Ben, meanwhile, is out to prove to his pals and his boss that, to land a lucrative account, he will get a women to fall in love with him within 10 days.

Some careful manipulation by two devious women bring the unwitting Ben and equally none-the-wiser Andie together. What follows is a series of mishaps in which Andie goes out of her way to be obnoxious. She becomes whining, clinging, selfish and tactless. She does things like confess at the 11th hour to being a vegetarian when he prepares her an impeccable meat dish. She decorates Ben's apartment in pink, drags him off to a Celine Dion concert when he thinks he's off to the basketball. And she gatecrashes his weekly guys-only poker game, insisting everyone extinguish their cigars.

Burdened Ben, however, bites his bottom lip and puts up with everything to win his bet.

This then leads to anxious Andie struggling to find new and novel ways of becoming even more of a pain to her new partner. Of course, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out where all this is headed.

Adapted from Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long's satiric Universal Don'ts of Dating, the film's dialogue could be a lot sharper most of the time. But there's no denying this is a fun, unpretentious, featherlight frolic. It has been carefully contrived to prove a big crowd-pleaser and it achieves its goal.

The rather under-used supporting cast, by the way, includes Bebe Neuwirth as Andie's no-nonsense editor. My rating: 6/10. - Billy Suter




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