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How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

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Romantic comedies don't get much more formulaic than How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, which fuses two gimmicky premises into one stratospherically high concept, pairing a man determined to stick with a woman with a woman who's equally determined to drive him away. At best, the story offers the agreeable familiarity of comfort food at a diner: bland and uncomplicated, though garnished with the sort of committee dialogue that apes the snappy rhythms of classic screwball comedies, but instead plugs in hollow sitcom banter and a little Sex And The City sass. Only star charisma can prop up material this threadbare, and How To Lose A Guy gets a lucky boost from Kate Hudson, who brightens her scenes with such an infectious sense of mischief that any situation can seem fresh and disarming. Much has been written about Hudson's resemblance to her mother Goldie Hawn—who has dignified more than a few half-witted comedies with her flaky charm—but the feeling of déjà vu has never been more apparent. Hudson's boundless energy and wildly expressive pie-face carry her role as a would-be journalist who tables her feelings on Tajikistan for a job as a "How To" columnist for a Cosmo-style magazine, where she writes on such soul-stirring topics as workout fads, feng shui, and orgasms. Inspired by a friend's bad dating habits, Hudson proposes the title assignment as a way to demonstrate the common mistakes women make ("clingy, needy, touchy-feely") that cause men to flee. But she picks the wrong mark in Matthew McConaughey, an advertising pitchman who tries to land a lucrative diamond account by betting his boss (Robert Klein) that he can get a woman to fall in love with him before the company party—which is, conveniently, right on Hudson's deadline. Director Donald Petrie (Grumpy Old Men, Miss Congeniality) and his assorted screenwriters waste too much time on set-ups and introductions, but once they finally lug the boulder up the hill, Hudson and McConaughey's cross-purpose love affair yokes a few big laughs off their dating peccadilloes. With each one plotting against the other, the second act works like a Roadrunner cartoon with two Wile E. Coyotes, and the more Hudson tries to turn McConaughey away (leaving teddy bears and toiletries in his apartment, phoning him obsessively, speaking in baby talk, giving him a feminine nickname), the more doggedly he returns. With such a deft young comedienne in the lead, How To Lose A Guy has the same sort of effect: As her character resorts to increasingly cruel and devious pranks, Hudson only seems funnier and more endearing. It's only fitting that, like her mother, she still awaits a starring vehicle worthy of her talent.