- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

"How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" is the romantic comedy our "Joe Millionaire"-obsessed culture so richly deserves. The film's photogenic leads, Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, spend the entire movie lying to each other for selfish purposes. Then, at the end, we're expected to believe they fall in love.
Can't we vote both of them out of this movie?
Fox's smash hit "Joe Millionaire" draws in viewers by convincing a group of lovely ladies that a single, economically distressed construction worker is actually rich beyond their dreams.
Deception might make the reality-TV world go 'round, but it does little to inspire true romance on film.
Loosely based on a dating guidebook of the same name by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long, "Days" leans so heavily on the charms of its two leads that it never gives them a fighting chance to fall in love.
Instead, director Donald Petrie (2000's trite "Miss Congeniality") wrings all the adorableness out of Miss Hudson, cast as a butter-blond magazine columnist hunting for a good story, but to little avail.
The same goes for Mr. McConaughey, whose roguish charm and Paul Newman-esque peepers await a role worthy of him. The actor's toned physique must be a byproduct of having to lift too many inferior movies ("The Wedding Planner," "Reign of Fire") upon his shoulders.
A few laughs do emerge from the complicated plot of "Days," thanks to an able assemblage of secondary characters.
Miss Hudson is Andie Anderson, a rising star at one of those cheeky women's magazines that promise tighter buns and tips on landing the man of your dreams. During a touchy-feely writers session, she proposes a column about all the mistakes women make to drive men away. To hammer the story home, she vows to meet, woo and then chase away a man in 10 days to prove her point, despite any moral implications.
As luck, and a movie contrivance to match all movie contrivances, would have it, she gets paired up with an advertising executive named Ben (Mr. McConaughey), who just bet his boss he could make any woman fall in love with him in 10 days. By doing so, he will show his boss he knows women well enough to wrest the company's diamond advertising account away from a pair of seasoned executives ("ER's" Michael Michele and Shalom Harlow).
Andie quickly unloads all her maddening tics on Ben. She takes him to a Knicks playoff game and demands that he steal away to the concessions stand to buy her a soda as the final seconds tick off the game clock. She surreptitiously plants feminine toiletries in his bathroom, giving Mr. McConaughey a chance to show his comedy chops as he gawks at the assorted ointments.
He, in turn, swallows her nonsense whole, his focus firmly on that diamond account.
What's missing, beyond a reason to care for either Ben or Andie, are those moments when the two let down their guards long enough to actually like each other. Without these crucial scenes, no reason exists for them to fall in love, beyond the fact that they would make beautiful babies.
The characters of both Ben and Andie appear quite self-satisfied, to the point of narcissism. Each is virtually bereft of flaws and interesting character quirks beyond their penchant for large-scale lies.
"Days" serves up a mild satire on Cosmopolitan and its fluffy ilk, and its faux article titles are dead-on. The magazine's vampirish editor, the reliably frosty Bebe Neuwirth, seems like a perfectly believable taskmaster with the magazine's demographic firmly in mind.
The signs of comic desperation show up midfilm, though, with a tiny dog that urinates wherever it pleases and a flatulent uncle whose presence is added just for a few unnecessary outbursts.
Pity Miss Hudson, who shows she deserves another crack at a respectable romantic comedy. The actress's every giggle and grin remind us of mama Goldie Hawn, an uncanny and welcome resemblance.
"How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" well-represents the ideal anti-romantic comedy, as smug and hollow as a modern media romance can be. Somewhere, the producers of Fox's "Joe Millionaire" are laughing and taking notes.

* 1/2
"How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"
PG-13 (sexual situations and language)
Directed by Donald Petrie. Written by Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan and Burr Steers
112 minutes

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