Comedy, as Aristotle defines it, is a story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character. The movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), stars Kate Hudson as Andie Anderson, a writer for a female targeted magazine called Composure. After Andie’s friend experiences another breakup due to her over involved and over emotional behavior with men, Andie decides to write an article called “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” where she will meet a man and do everything “wrong” to try and get him to break up with her as quickly as possible to prove what her friend is doing wrong.
Ben Barry is an advertising executive who is bored with his usual advertisements revolving around beer and sports. His new goal is to land a job with a prestigious diamond company. Ben’s boss questions whether Ben has the intimate knowledge of the “romance” it takes to make diamond advertisements because he is a known womanizer. Ben claims that he can get any woman to fall in love with him, so his boss gives him a 10 day time period to get a woman to fall in love with him before a company party. Ben’s two work rivals who also want the diamond contract point him towards Andie as the girl he should date because they have connections to Composure and know about the article she is writing.
Both of them try to complete their quests with Andie doing everything she can to make Ben leave her: moving her stuff into his apartment, making a scrapbook of their future children, getting him punched at a movie theater for her talking during the movie, asking him to get her a soda during the final shot of a Knicks game, and many other overexaggerated mistakes she believes girls make when dating men. Because of his project, Ben sticks through everything and only breaks up with Andie after they get in a huge fight during Ben’s poker night. However, his friends convince them to go to couples therapy and they end up taking a weekend trip to Ben’s family’s home in Staten Island where the two fall in love. They both end up finding out about each other’s schemes, and after they argue and break up again, they ultimately come back together because of the endearing article Andie writes about her experience.
This movie has all the hallmarks of a typical romantic comedy and Andie and Ben are both sympathetic characters in their own ways. Andie’s goal is to help her friend and she ends up falling in love and getting the best writing material she could have asked for. Ben starts off as a somewhat unredeeming character just trying to take advantage of Andie, but eventually we see how much he cares about his family, friends, and his career. They had both been unlucky in love in the past and then they met each other, fulfilling the “rise” in Aristotle’s comedy.
This movie helps to enhance the absurdities of human nature and the combination of love and hate someone can have for a person. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days also addresses a lot of relationship and feminist topics and brings to light a lot of issues. Andie and Ben’s world has been set up as pretty much every other romantic comedy, except the story is turned on its head. The boy is chasing the girl, albeit for a bet, and doing anything he can to be patient and understanding with her. Though in an admittedly convoluted way, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days flips the script in order to create a really compelling love story where both sides have said and done bad things to each other, but the admiration each character has for the other is ultimately what brings them back together.
Critics of comedies will always point to the lack of substance that watching comedies over more meaningful bodies of work has. I concede that principally watching comedies is not the answer, but discounting them completely isn’t either. While on the surface How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days appears incredibly shallow and pretty un-feminist by today’s standards, I would argue that love stories like this aren’t meant to represent the real world. Comedy, in many forms, is a way to escape our life’s struggles and anxieties. Comedy allows viewers to be present in a world where the stakes aren’t life or death, and where things usually work out in the end. Being able to enter into this predictable yet satisfying world again and again is an invaluable way to escape the pressures of society that other forms of media cannot achieve in the same way.
4 thoughts on “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”
I really love this movie and I agree that it is not realistic at all, but that it’s not the point of these types of movies.
I love this movie! You did a great job analyzing it and explaining it. I completely agree with you that comedy allows people to escape stress or other things that may be going on.
I really like this movie and I enjoyed reading your analysis on it!
I love this movie! I really like your take on it, especially how a movie that appears to lack substance still qualifies as a comedy.