Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) writes how-to columns for Composure Magazine, the most successful women's magazine in the country. After a co-worker is dumped by her latest boyfriend and succumbs to a bad case of the weepies during a staff meeting, Andie volunteers to write a column to help other women avoid the same mistakes. Her piece, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," will show readers what they should not do in a new relationship. She hopes that this piece will convince editor Lana Jong (Bebe Neuwirth) that she's capable of taking on more important projects, including writing about political issues.
Meanwhile across town, Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey), an ambitious ad executive, is sick of being stuck with beer and sports promotions. He has his eye on a big account for a large diamond merchant. To prove that he can write pitches for women, he bets his boss (Robert Klein) that he get a new woman to fall in love with him; he promises to bring her to a party in just 10 days.
Andie and Benjamin meet in a bar and take it from there, each with a hidden agenda and each confident that the mission will be completed successfully. Of course, this plot contrivance illustrates the modern day phenomenon that everything in the lives of upscale professionals is peripheral to making it big in the workplace. Romantic relationships play second fiddle, and many of them are riddled with deceit. The other thing working in favor of this fabricated storyline is that it allows us to watch what it would be like for a man to exhibit the kind of equanimity usually only demonstrated by seasoned Buddhist practitioners. Benjamin proves to be very good at staying unruffled. He takes the good with the bad and is forced to set aside his preferences for this and that.
Andie serves up a smorgasbord of actions designed to send Benjamin running. During the dramatic final minutes of a Knicks basketball game, she asks him to get her a soda. After he cooks her an elaborate lamb dinner, she announces she is a vegetarian. She leaves countless messages on his answering machine and talks to his mother behind his back. She gets him a dog who then pees all over his apartment. She stocks his bathroom with feminine hygiene products, insists on going to a chick flick festival, and then barges in on his poker night with the guys.
Donald Petrie directs this spiffy romantic comedy based on a clever screenplay by Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan, and Burr Steers. Kate Hudson, who was so endearing in Almost Famous, is perky and funny as the ambitious journalist who is surprised by her own feelings toward the man she is deliberately spurning. Matthew McConaughey is a hoot as a self-absorbed male who learns that love means exhibiting patience, self-sacrifice, and the willingness to bear all things. The screen chemistry between these two is convincing. How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days explores sexual politics in many winning and funny ways and proves that equanimity in a man is a great aphrodisiac.
The special edition DVD contains an audio commentary with director Donald Petrie, cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes, and featurettes on mapping out the perfect movie and the perfect movie location.
Spiritually Literate Readings of
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Disposable Relationships. We live in an age of disposable relationships. Teenagers and young adults expect to run through a succession of boyfriends and girlfriends. Some take great pride in the variety of affairs they've had in a year. Fifty percent of marriages don't last because, among other things, couples don't seem to be committed to the vows made in front of their partners, family, and friends. It's almost as if the gaming principle has taken over contemporary relationships where playing the field and winning (self-gratification) are all important.
In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Andie, a women's magazine columnist, and Benjamin, an ambitious ad executive, are players who want to be winners at work and number one in their relationships. They are perfectly willing to deceive and use their partner to achieve their self-centered goals. Nothing commendable about this but it does hit the mark as a telling depiction of modern day sexual politics.
Equanimity Practice. As part of his campaign to win a big diamond account, Benjamin is willing to do anything to stay in a romantic relationship with Andie for ten days, concluding with a party where he must show her off to his boss as a woman madly in love with him. To accomplish this goal, he is willing to endure anything and everything she does that rubs him the wrong way. Although the writers probably didn't have the spiritual practice of equanimity in mind when they wrote the screenplay, this quality of being unruffled by troubles is exactly what Benjamin demonstrates.
Wayne Muller in Legacy of the Heart writes: "Equanimity is the ability to experience the changes in our lives, circumstances, and feelings and still remain calm, centered and unmoved. The image most often used to illustrate the quality of equanimity is that of a mountain. The mountain sits there as the sun shines on it, the rain drenches it, it is covered by snow and struck by lightning. Through it all, through all the changing conditions, the mountain remains unwavering."
Benjamin is a mountain as Andie besieges him with the worst things she can imagine to do to a lover. Throughout it all, he is patient and accommodating. His motto: Every situation is workable. Imagine what would happen in relationships if more lovers practiced equanimity. Imagine what would be possible if marriage partners remained unruffled in the face of disappointments and difficulties. Be a mountain and know that every situation in life is workable. Those are pretty good lessons to learn while laughing along with this romantic comedy.