NOW PLAYING: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Posted: Monday, February 10, 2003

What a cool title. In fact, what a cool idea for a movie. It's got it all: romance, battle of the sexes, laughs, tears; the ultimate chick flick, but one that guys will actually go see. It's rare that Hollywood is able to come up with a creative twist on the age old love story, and it's in honor of that potential that I am titling this week's column: How to Screw Up the Perfect Date Movie in 10 Steps.

1. Start With a Great Premise - It's perfect. An up and coming columnist for an up and coming fashion mag has an idea to write an article outlining all the reasons women inadvertently drive men away. She's going to date a man for ten days and effectively lose him by committing all the dating faux paus she can think of. At the same time, the guy she has picked has, unbeknownst to her, entered into a bet which says that he can get any woman to fall madly in love with him. He'll prove it by showing up at a party with his love slave in tow. The party is in exactly ten days. So simple, yet so full of potential. It's like a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, just waiting to be plucked.

2. Flesh Out Said Premise in Meeting after Hilarious Meeting - Now, this is all just conjecture (it's embarrassing how few Hollywood pitch meetings I get invited to anymore) but I can just imagine the round table discussion going on for this movie. "Oh my God! This is going to be awesome! It'll practically write itself!" (If only that were an option) "So, we'll ha -ha! We'll have her bring all these stuffed animals over to his apartment!" "Yes! I hate that!" "And then, hee hee! She can interrupt the big poker game and make all the guys eat, mppff, ha ha! Cucumber sandwiches!" "Oh, that's perfect! I think we've got a hit on our hands! Call Kathy over at casting!"

3. Cast For Said Premise - The problem here is that there is really no movie, no script; really, no story, but we've got to have stars. I think movies like this must get cast based on some complex cuteness algorithm. If you divide Jennifer Aniston by Sarah Michelle Gellar and multiply by the square root of Meg Ryan you get smart, blond, and way too pretty for anyone's good. So they see who is available off that list and, viola! Kate Hudson. I imagine Matthew McConaughey got picked in much the same way. There's nothing wrong with them, but the point is that it could have been just about anyone.

4. Cliche, Cliche, Cliche - At this point we've got to start actually thinking about more than just the funny parts. The characters actually have to have personalities, right? Since we don't have an actual story yet, it's going to be easiest here to go with tried and true. The guy should drive a motorcycle and work in an ad agency. That's cool, right? And the girl, she's got to be a big sports fan - almost as big as the guy. That way the audience will actually believe that they are really going to end up together. And, when we start to film, I think we should shoot all the romantic scenes with a hazy, shimmery filter, so the audience will know this is serious love stuff. Maybe if we smear vaseline on the lens.

5. Actually Film Funny Parts - Fill the Preview with Said Funny Parts - Ok, we've spent too long away from the whole reason we're making this flick, the wacky dating! It's time to actually film the funny parts of the movie. These will make up the middle portion of the film, and are actually very funny. Almost brilliant, at times. I mean, hey, it's a great premise, as previously stated. These funny parts, all strung together, will make a perfect trailer.

6. "Frost" Yourself - I don't care how much you need for your advertising representative hero to have a catchy slogan to pitch to the big clients (diamond moguls), don't pick one that sounds like the line Tony Soprano utters just before he whacks someone.

7. Tack on a Beginning and an Ending - By this time, you will have realized that you actually have to come up with a way to start this movie, and a way to end it. I mean, you've got a cast, a release date, promotional materials, interviews set up, and half the movie already in the can. Well, surely something will come to you. If worst comes to worst, you can just smear more vaseline on the lens, and the audience won't be able to tell what's going on anyway. Note to self: You also need to get someone to write the dialogue for all the non-funny parts. Preferably before you film them. Then again, we said before that the movie would write itself, so I guess we can count on that.

8. Release Your Instant Hit - And you're done. You've taken a great idea, run it through the Hollywood movie mill, and come out with a bunch of funny scenes tied together with a shoddy, terribly written, cliched, unbelievable, barely sustainable framework. Huh. I guess it didn't take 10 steps after all. Grade: C-

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is rated PG-13 for language and adult themes.

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