Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Rachel Holden

The soundtrack to the romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) features songs that add to the scene in a very effective way. Actress Kate Hudson plays the main character, Andie, and Matthew McConaughey plays the male protagonist, Ben. Due to the comedy genre of the movie, there are many happy songs that add to the comedic levity of the movie as a whole. Some upbeat songs include “Good Day” by Tom Luce and “Hot in Herre” by Nelly.
            According to Giannetti’s Understanding Movies, tone of voice can be far more communicative than words in revealing a person’s thoughts (205). In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Andie’s tone is different both times she sings the song “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. The song is the only one of the soundtrack that plays twice throughout the movie. The first time it plays is on one of Andie and Ben’s dates after only dating for a few days. There is Jamaican music playing in the background when the pair are in Ben’s apartment and he is cooking dinner for her. While Ben cooks for Andie, she scatters feminine object around the apartment and changes his music to “You’re So Vain.” Once Ben realizes this, he walks into the living room and Andie starts singing the song’s lyrics to him while trying to be cute and enticing.
            The second time this song features in the movie is near the end when both Ben and Andie finally realize that both of them have been using each other to win contradicting bets with their friends. They are at a fancy party, which starts out to be a glamorous evening. To help enhance the glamour of this scene, the popular song “L-O-V-E” by Bert Kaempfert & Milt Gabler plays in the background. Once both characters come to the realization of their betrayal, the mood suddenly shifts and Ben tells the pianist to play “You’re So Vain,” which the two karaoke together. Andie does not act cute and fun during the song the second time around; rather, she screams the lyrics and both she and Ben change some of the words. Some of the lyrics changes include “Ben Barry you’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you. You fooled me to win a bet, you should feel ashamed.”
            I find it very interesting how the same song can elicit two very different moods and tones to the different parts of the movie depending on how soft or how loud the singer says (or screams) the words. Due to the movies overall comedic tone, I believe that it was smart of the director, Donald Petrie, to include “You’re So Vain” to the soundtrack because it adds tension. Furthermore, I liked how he decided to play it twice in the movie, which helps the audience associate the song with the shift in Andie and Ben’s relationship. The first time the song plays, the awkward tension is created when Andie sings because the audience knows that she is acting like a crazy person with the intent of getting Ben to break up with her. The second time around, the song adds angry tension between the two protagonists, which is a sudden shift in the mood of the glamorous party they attend.
            The more intense version of “You’re So Vain” creates an immediate shift in not only the tone and mood of the party, but it also creates a dramatic change in the movie’s plot. An emotional scene proceeds now that both characters were publicly humiliated. Ben and Andie share a conversation when leaving the party that is an angry, yet sad moment. The music gets louder when Andie says “You can’t lose something you never had.” The increase in volume evokes a very strong emotional response, causing the audience to feel sad. In the book, Everything’s An Argument, Andrea Lunsford says, “if you strike the right emotional note, you’ll establish an important connection.”
            As a whole, I really enjoyed watching the movie due to the soundtrack. I think the director did a fantastic job of creating expected levity to the comedy by using upbeat songs. The soundtrack also features romantic songs, which cause the audience to believe the love story of the two protagonists. Playing the same song during two different scenes was genius in my opinion, because now I will also remember this movie when I hear the song, “You’re So Vain.”

Giannetti, Louis D. Understanding Movies 12th edition. NJ: Pearson, 2011. Print.

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