Life & Other Drugs, Love & Romance

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”: A Film Critique

October 24, 2016

In the aftermath of the adrenaline rush that comes with turning an essay in on Canvas mere minutes before the deadline, my sleep-deprived, midterm-fried brain recovered by lying down in my bed and opening up good ol’ Netflix.

I scrolled through saturated, high-contrast photos of smiling men and women with perfect, gleaming white teeth under the heading “Rom Coms,” and finally, after much deliberation, made my selection: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (though this is not an area in which I particularly need help or advice, I am doing just fine losing guys, thankyouverymuch).

In case you have never seen this truly special film, I’ll tell you all about it. This movie stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in all their early 2003 youth and glory. Here they are on the movie poster:

And here they are on an ~alternate~ movie poster, which is very different:

I mean, her dress is an entirely different color.

(And here’s the poster for an unrelated movie, Failure to Launch, also starring Matthew McConaughey. I know that these posters, upon first glance, appear to actually be the exact same poster, but upon careful inspection, they are, in fact different. I believe it is the same picture of Matthew McConaughey, though. They just tilted him a little more.)

Anyway, Hudson and McConaughey play romantic interests Andie Anderson and Benjamin Barry. Apparently having a first and last name that start with the same letter is a requirement for finding love (guess I’m outta luck there).  Benjamin and Andie appear to be two career-obsessed, beautiful New Yorkers, each with the appropriate number of best friends—two—of the same gender. They each spend a lot of time talking with said friends, Andie at work at the magazine “Composure,” while laughing and taking massive bites of a cheeseburger during her lunch break—she’s relatable, guys, she eats cheeseburgers too! She even says, “They forgot my bacon again” before digging in!—and Ben, at work in advertising, thumping his much less attractive and doofier male friends on their arms and saying things like “Dude!” and “Guys!”

Andie has a master’s in journalism from Columbia, and yet she’s stuck writing ridiculous fluff pieces for “Composure.” She agrees to write a piece called “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” under the guise that if she is successful with this piece, her severe boss will let her write whatever she wants in future columns. Now all Andie needs is a man to lose.

Enter Ben. While just pallin’ around with the boys, Ben discovers that his nemeses at work, Spears and Green, are about to lock down an ad account that he wants. Ben, for some unclear reason, feels he’s entitled to this account–a big and successful diamond jewelry company. Spears and Green are two tall, lanky women, and the clear antagonists in Ben’s life. Yes, these two beautiful, smart, and advertising-savvy women are obvious choices for the villains of the film because… they’re successful? Despite my personal opinion that Spears and Green are the true protagonists, Ben feels that he is entitled to their account, and vows to get it from them. His justification has something to do with his frustrations that people always assume he can only advertise beer and sporting equipment. Darn! Doesn’t it suck when people make gender-based assumptions about you in the workplace?? Anyway, Ben goes to a big dinner meeting with Spears and Green and the big boss man who will decide who gets the diamonds account. Ben bets Spears and Green that if he can make any woman in the restaurant/bar fall in love with him in 10 days, he should get the account. They agree, and either Spears or Green—it’s hard to tell which one because they are always together, and in fact don’t seem to be capable of separating—proposes Ben date “that blonde woman over there,” who is none other than Andie! That smart, tricky, evil Spears/Green.

Andie and Ben’s first meeting goes a little something like this:

Succinct. Effective. I like it.

Then they enter into a whirlwind ten-day romance in which Andie does everything in her power to lose Ben (bringing stuffed animals to his home, blowing his nose for him, telling a waitress that she can’t eat in front of him because he thinks she’s fat, getting him a dog, making a photo album with photo-shopped pictures of their future children, and even, God forbid, ruining his guys night). Ben desperately clings to their young, blossoming relationship, because at the end of ten days he must have proof that Andie is in love with him.

Despite this absurd, swirly cloud of deceit that presides comfortably over their entire relationship—I keep calling it a relationship but seriously, it’s ten days—Andie and Ben somehow manage to still fall for each other!! This mostly happens when Ben takes Andie to meet his family on Staten Island and she acts normal for them and they’re pretty cool—his mom gives her a hug or something and that really sticks with her—and this motorcycle ride happens:

This is love happening right here, people. So by the end of the ten days, they’re in love, Andie didn’t lose the guy, and they go to a big work party where Ben will win the bet and steal the account from the two hard-working women who really deserve it. BUT just before everyone finds success, both romantic leads find out the ulterior motives of the other. This culminates in a tone-deaf, drunken, angry duet of “You’re so Vain” in front of all the important people each of them works for. They breakup:

But Andie writes her article and it’s v heartfelt I guess because Ben reads it and realizes they need to be together!!!! Andie is leaving New York—she has quit her job and has an interview to do real journalism in Washington, D.C. But Ben tracks her down on his motorcycle and makes her pull her cab over. BEN CAN YOU PLS JUST STOP GETTING IN THE WAY OF WOMEN TRYING TO ACHIEVE THEIR CAREER GOALS. JUST ONE TIME. Ben convinces Andie that she’s running away, that she doesn’t want to leave New York. They kiss passionately pulled over on a New York bridge amongst construction—there are literal sparks. Such symbolism.

Although this is technically the end of the movie, I like to think that Spears and Green continue their trajectory of inevitable success in advertising, that Andie gets a job as a serious journalist, and that Ben continues to advertise beer and sports for the rest of his happy life.

Images via, via, via, via, via, via, and via.

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