Days like today are proof that God has a hand in your life. I am writing this on a Friday, which is usually the day I go to the theater. As it turns out, there are no major releases this weekend, unless you count films like Emancipation. As you can see that on Apple TV+, I reasoned, why make that a trip to the cinema? I am interested in the film, but I try to limit my visits to the cineplex to the big-time releases. Next weekend will see the debut of Avatar: The Way of Water, so expect a resumption of my usual schedule. If you are not seeing God’s hand in this thus far, that is okay. It is the circumstances that crossed my path today in all manner of the spectrum that made the above helpful. The cynical among you may read this and, despite some vagueness on my part (forgive me for not revealing personal detail), would chalk it up as coincidence. Regarding coincidence, you do not need the Bible to tell you that such things are rare. I will give you Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) from Sherlock (2010-2017) on the subject: “The universe is rarely so lazy.” Whatever you believe, I think it can be accepted that there are things beyond our understanding. It is best to accept them even see them as opportunity. Somehow, this all led to me watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003).
Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) is the person who will be writing the article whose title is loaned to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. She writes for a fictional magazine called Composure. Peruse the racks at your grocery store checkout line some time and you will get the gist of the subject matter contained therein. She pens the kind of material that helps women lose weight, pick the right gym, or do the kinds of unfortunate things of which our society is increasingly permissive. Make of this last phrase what you will. This all sounds like fluff, and that is exactly the way she feels about it. Instead, she wants to use her journalism degree from Columbia University to do serious articles. The person who objects to these ideas is her boss and editor-in-chief of the magazine, Lana Jang (Bebe Neuwirth). At the next pitch meeting, one of Andie’s co-workers, Michelle (Kathryn Hahn), is gushing about being recently dumped. Lana sees it as a potential piece for the magazine, but Michelle is hesitant to talk about her personal life. It does, though, inspire Andie to do another one of her famous “how to” articles. Because she had heard much more of the sad story, she volunteers to discuss the classic mistakes women make early on in relationships that drive men away. Sounds like a movie title, no? Now, all she needs is the right fellow. That turns out to be Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey). He works for an ad agency, and he is looking to move up in the company. To do so, he is seeking to branch out from the typical guy stuff to which he has been known to cater. What he wants is to do a campaign for the De Lauer diamond company for their upcoming spread in Composure. Because of his previous work, none of his co-workers think he can do it, including his boss, Phillip Warren (Robert Klein). They believe that Benjamin needs to know women to be able to pull off this kind of project. Meeting up with them later at a swanky bar, Benjamin makes a bet with Phillip that he can get a woman to fall in love with him. Coincidentally (ahem), in ten days they will be making their pitch to De Lauer. Oh, and guess who else is at the bar? Andie, of course. They eventually move in on each other, and at first they are pretty genuine with one another. Unfortunately, this is part of Andie’s plan of attack. As they go along in the relationship, she ratchets up the stereotypical clingy girl behavior. She calls him constantly, she makes demands of his time and inopportune moments, she insists on changes in habits, and she brings over many items with which to infiltrate his apartment. The goal is to do what the title suggests so that she can write her piece. At the same time, Benjamin is just as determined to put up with it so that he can get the diamond account. When Andie disrupts a guy’s only poker night at Benjamin’s place, they nearly break up but then he agrees to go to couples’ therapy. Michelle plays the role of the therapist, but it leads to Andie being invited over to Benjamin’s parent’s house for a weekend. This is when things take a serious turn. For one thing, it is revealed that she is the first girl he has ever brought to their place. She is also attracted to the warm and inviting home atmosphere. In turn, they make love for the first time. What it means, above all, is that they are developing real feelings for one another. As you might expect, this is going to make for much awkwardness. This commences at a company function for Benjamin’s agency, which is meant to be the event that lures De Lauer to them. At the soiree, each of them learns that the other had not been completely honest about the nature of their attraction. As you can imagine, neither are thrilled by this revelation, though they each go on to achieve their short-term goals. Still, Lana will not let Andie write what she truly wants. Thus, Andie quits, and is on her way to Washington to interview for a more serious journalist position. She is stopped on the way out of town by Benjamin, who had read the article she did write, how Andie how truly fallen for him, and that this was all her fault. They share a conciliatory embrace and kiss, and presumably a happy ending.
The things that Andie does in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days are meant to be funny. The film is meant to be a romantic comedy, after all. There are two reasons that I do not like how this is done. For starters, I not care for the lying. Of course, it would be a different movie if the main characters simply stated their true intentions up front. In any case, it would have saved a lot of tears by them. You also do not need faith to tell you that honesty is the best policy, though having God’s loving reinforcement helps. The other are the stereotypes, particularly as they pertain to women. Both sexes are not depicted in favorable lights here, but I find the female roles as they pertain to how Andie acts to be particularly bad. Speaking of stereotypes, the common one about what Catholicism teaches about women is that they should be subservient to men. This is false. It is much more of a partnership than what those lazy ideas would suggest. In the film, Andie takes all the misconceptions about what women do and exaggerates them. Granted, there is a point to what she is doing, but I would think any right-minded person would see through the charade regardless of sex. Hence, call me crazy, but I will stick to what the Church says about these matters because it is not based on pretext.
I must admit that I began feel my eyelids droop with watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, particularly during the scenes at Benjamin’s parent’s house. Still, I am thankful for the friend who recommended this movie and gave me a brief respite from the day’s concerns. Films like these are good for this kind of repose.