Saturday, January 12, 2008

Revenge of the Scribes

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

13 Going on 30 (2004)

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

I’m not usually much of a trend-spotter, but this one was pretty hard to miss. I call it ‘Revenge of the Scribes’ – or, with thanks to Ottawa-area poet rob mclennan, the unavoidable sexiness of journalism.

Think back. It started in the late 90s with a string of best-selling novels: Sex and the City, Bridget Jones’s Diary and the whole Shopaholic series. Carrie and Bridget both hit the screen soon afterwards, and were followed by the ladies under consideration here today: Andie Anderson of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 13 Going on 30’s Jenna Rink, and, most recently, Andy Sachs of The Devil Wears Prada.

So what do Carrie, Bridget, Andie, Jenna, and Andy have in common? Besides, you know, general physical perfection and the hot co-stars to match? Well funnily enough, they’re all journalists. Journalism, apparently, is sexy. If the films are to be believed, it’s a sexy job for all those sexy young professionals with great hair, nice clothes, and a penchant for hilarious romantic entanglements. (If you’re reading this and you’re also an aspiring writer, you’re no doubt asking yourself the same question I am… Does this mean that if I keep at it long enough I’ll start to look like Jennifer Garner?)

Though it doesn’t make my list of all-time classics, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is still an old favourite. Kate Hudson plays Andie, the ‘how-to’ writer for a fashion magazine – her latest challenge is to get a guy to dump her in less than 10 days, and Matthew McConaughey’s Benjamin Barry is her victim. Sure, we’ve all seen the ‘battle of the sexes’ before. But Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson have great chemistry, and her attempts at being the girlfriend from hell ring uncomfortably true. At times it almost feels like a dating manual, a little reminder of the do’s and don’t’s that sometimes slip one’s mind. It’s light, and fun, and certainly worth an evening of your time. Though I’ve always had one reservation – How to Make Peace in Tajikistan? Did she really think that would fly?

13 Going on 30 lacks the small pinch of sass that makes How to Lose a Guy stand out from the pack, but it still makes a solid helping of chick-flick comfort food. Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner) is a 13 year-old girl who makes a birthday wish to be ‘thirty, flirty, and thriving’ – and wakes up in 2003 as a high-powered fashion editor. Matt Flamhaff (Mark Ruffalo) is the boyhood friend who has to try and help her adjust. It’s cutesy, and a little silly, and certainly doesn’t take any risks or push envelopes of any kind. But it’s also a lot of fun – Jennifer Garner’s innocence and enthusiasm are hard to resist, while a good soundtrack and Jenna’s amazing closet do their part too. Meanwhile, if he’s a new face to you Mark Ruffalo may seem like an unlikely romantic lead at first, but give him a chance – he’ll grow on you. Judy Greer and Andy Serkis are great in their supporting roles.

The Devil Wears Prada is the most recent evidence of our trend, and to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Anne Hathaway plays Andy, who comes to New York City and scores the job ‘a million girls would die for’ – and the boss from hell. The resulting story isn’t really a comedy, and it isn’t a romance either. But it also isn’t quite a proper drama – I wouldn’t say that I was taken on an emotional journey by the film. I suppose ‘coming-of-age’ might be the appropriate category to file it under, but the central problem which remains is that the movie made me feel neither really good nor really bad; it didn’t really make me feel anything. Still, Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly makes it almost worth watching all by herself, and Stanley Tucci is fabulous as Nigel, Andy’s only ally in the office. Plus, Andy’s boyfriend Nate is hot.

I have it on good advice that How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually one that many guys don’t mind watching, so keep it in mind for a date night or a co-ed group of friends. 13 Going on 30 makes solid girls-night fare and would also be good for a night-with-mom, while The Devil Wears Prada is probably more suited to a quiet night in on your own.

Chick Flick Connections:

Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are both rom-com veterans (she in You, Me and Dupree, Raising Helen, and Alex and Emma, and he in Failure to Launch and The Wedding Planner, for a start) while in the supporting cast Kathryn Hahn has appeared in The Holiday and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, and Annie Parisse worked on Prime and Monster-in-Law. Meanwhile, 13 Going on 30 may have been a brief detour from Jennifer Garner’s usual stuff, but co-star Mark Ruffalo has made a niche for himself as a nice-guy leading man, starring in Just Like Heaven and Rumor Has It, while Judy Greer has appeared in American Dreamz, Elizabethtown, The Wedding Planner, What Women Want and Jawbreaker, among others. From the Devil Wears Prada cast, Anne Hathaway is of course best-known for the Princess Diaries movies, while Meryl Streep’s most recent chick-flick was Prime. Stanley Tucci has appeared in Shall We Dance, Maid in Manhattan and America’s Sweethearts, and Adrian Grenier (Nate) is, embarrassingly enough, a veteran of Britney Spears: Greatest Hits.

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