Kate Hudson is irresistably adorable in this frothy update of the 1950’s-style battle of the gorgeous (and gorgeously-attired) sexes romantic comedy. It’s easy to imagine Doris Day and Rock Hudson as the magazine columnist and advertising executive at the center of a head-on-collision between two competing bets and one overpowering attraction.
Hudson plays Andie Anderson, who writes the “how to” column for Compusure, a popular magazine for young women devoted to fads, diets, fashion, and celebrity gossip. She wants to write about politics. She gets to write about decorating with feng shui and charming her way out of a traffic ticket. Her next assignment give this movie its title. She is supposed to pick up a guy and make every mistake women make to drive men away, to get him to dump her in ten days.
Matthew McConaughey plays Ben, a guy’s guy specializing in ads for beer and sports equipment who wants to move up to the advertising big time with a huge new account, a company that handles seventy percent of the world’s diamonds. His boss (Robert Klein) says that he can have the account if he can make a woman fall in love with him in ten days. His rivals at the advertising agency (played by supermodels Shalom Harlow and Michael Michele), knowing about Andie’s column, pick her as the subject.
The movie has some clever jabs at the war between the sexes. Andie’s glee at torturing Ben is softened a little because the torture comes from gestures that are seen as natural to women. What men see as being clingy and possessive, women see as affectionate and caring. We see this contrast in the way Andie and Ben treat (and are treated by) their friends. And we suspect that it is good for Ben to have to stick it out a little bit with a woman for a change.
Andie takes Ben to a chick flick festival and a Celine Dion concert. She gives him a houseplant and marks his apartment as her territory by spreading stuffed animals, potpourri, and feminine hygiene products all over it. Even worse, she becomes friendly with his mother, intrudes on his poker night, and gives a part of his anatomy a name that is, um, counter-productive. She even makes him go to couples therapy — and pay for it. But we also see how truly right Andie and Ben are for each other and how crazy they are about each other right from the beginning. It isn’t just the bet that keeps Ben going. It is his sense that somewhere inside this crazy behavior is a girl he really wants to get close to.
Parents should know that the movie has very mature material for a PG-13, including explicit and graphic sexual references and situations. There are references to impotence, orgasms, sex between people who do not know each other very well, and the appropriate name to give to genitals. Characters drink and smoke. Drinking to the point of drunkenness is portrayed as a way to handle unhappiness. There is also very strong language for a PG-13, including continuous use through one long scene of the word “Bull*****” in a card game my family used to just call “I Doubt It.” Most important, this is a movie in which the characters lie to each other and manipulate each other and make no effort to tell each other the truth, even after they have become very close.
Families who see this movie should talk about how men and women may have different communication styles. And they should talk about bets that may hurt someone’s feelings.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy three Rock Hudson movies: “Pillow Talk,” “Come September,” and “Lover Come Back” (all of which reflect the early 1960’s era morality).