TALKING PICTURES: NAME GAME

Barry Friedman is dying.
He’s just seen “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” the new romantic comedy (read: Chick-Flick) starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Directed by Mystic Pizza’s Donald Petrie, this one’s about a studly bachelor (McConaughey) who, having bet his boss he can stay with any one woman for ten days, unknowingly chooses the sexy magazine writer (Hudson) whose latest assignment is to land a man and then scare him off by making all the classic “girl mistakes”—such basic bad moves as calling him her boyfriend on their second date, publicly chattering in high-decibel baby-talk, and brazenly loading his medicine chest with tampons and (Jesus Christ!) vaginal creams. In short, it’s the kind of movie that Friedman—and about a million other guys—would normally endeavor to stay at least 15,000 miles away from.  
“With most chick flicks,” Friedman affirms, “after 30 seconds I’m thinking, ‘I really wish I was gay so I didn’t have a wife to drag me to this thing!’”
Which is precisely why Friedman, a Los Angeles-based writer and standup comic, is currently dying—of embarrassment. Yep. He’s choking on his own wounded pride and disbelief, forced to admit that “How to Lose a Guy”—in spite of its Chick Flick vibes and the disturbing presence of Matthew McConaughey—was, damn it, kinda good. 
“I hate myself for saying it,” says Friedman, “but it wasn’t nearly as hateful as I was prepared for, not nearly as despicable as I’d expected, and not nearly as lame as it could have been. It was smart and funny, kind of a modern miracle—a chick flick that won’t offend guys. I liked it. 
“I don’t know what’s happening to me.” 
Friedman, a staple of the L.A. comedy club scene, is an award-winning syndicated columnist, a longtime writer of television comedies, and the author of two recently released books: Road Comic: Heartbreak, Triumph and Obsession on the Comedy Circuit (Hawk, 2002, $17.00) and Chasing Rainbows (Bulfinch, 2003, $35.00). The first is an autobiographical behind-the-scenes romp through the seedy hotels and comedy clubs that are an obsessive comic’s daily existence; the second—the Rainbow book—is a big, expensively-produced, coffee-table job devoted to Friedman’s other, somewhat less likely obsession—American Indian blankets. He’s weirdly consumed by them, so filled with enthusiasm for the woven wonders that he keeps slipping little Indian-blanket-remarks into his conversations.  
It’s cute. Not unlike the way Kate Hudson keeps introducing the phrase “Boo-Boo Face” when addressing McConaughey in front of his poker buddies. In offering his chief criticisms of “How to Lose a Guy,” Friedman excitedly states, “Did you notice there wasn’t a single Indian Blanket in the whole movie? Not a hint of a blanket draped over McConaughey’s furniture. Nothing!
“On an Indian Blanket basis,” he adds,” this movie was a total failure.” 
But wait. He’s not done.
“The beauty of Indian Blankets,” Friedman is saying, with a knowing chuckle, “is that they belong in everything. You can put them in comedies and dramas, TV shows and commercials—operating rooms and city busses. Everywhere that people are, Indian blankets should be.” 
There is a short pause.  
You know, “How to Lose an Indian Blanket in 10 Days” wouldn’t be a bad name for a movie,” he says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the name of the sequel.”
So there. 
As for the film’s many insights into male-female relationships, Friedman—who admits to being dangerously allergic to female baby talk—was impressed by the hellish laundry list of assaults that Hudson deploys in trying to lose her guy. On the other hand, this Kate Hudson, the very picture of adorable sexiness. Seriously now, would any display of boo-boo talk or spontaneous weeping be enough to make a guy toss a hottie like Kate Hudson out of bed? 
Says Friedman, “The Celine Dione concert would have done it for me.” He’s referencing the scene in which Hudson tricks McConaughey into going to a Celine concert. She even forces him to buy Celine T-shirts. Pink ones. “That would have been the end for me,” says Friedman, “bet or no bet.” Another funny moment comes when McConaughey realizes she’s given his penis a nickname.  
Princess Sophia. 
“Not a name any guy wants his penis to have,” Friedman laughs. “And I know a lot of guys who’ve nicknamed their penises. A penis without a name is a very lonely penis. I have one friend who calls his Mr. Hollywood. Best penis-name I’ve ever heard.” 
And what’s the worst Penis name he could imagine? 
“Other than ‘Princess Sophia?’” Friedman laughs. “How about ‘Celine Dion?’ Now that would be a lonely penis.” 

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Writer David Templeton takes interesting people to the movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate post-film conversation. This is not a review; rather, it’s a freewheeling, tangential discussion of art, alternative ideas, and popular culture.




Posted on February 18, 2003 in Features by

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