How to Lose Your Lover (2004) / Comedy-Romance
aka 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
MPAA Rated: R for sexuality, drug use, and language
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Paul Schneider, Jennifer Westfeldt, Poppy Montgomery, Tori Spelling, Dorian Missick, Fred WIllard
Director: Jordan Hawley
Screenplay: Jordan Hawley
Review published March 18, 2006
Paul Schneider (George Washington, All the Real Girls) plays Owen, a hack Los Angeles writer of autobiographies that is unhappy with the celebrities he promotes, wanting to do something more substantive with his talent. Fed up with the city, finding himself as unlucky in love as he is in his profession, Owen makes a decision to leave town for good, burning every bridge he can to be sure he will never return. However, on the way to board his plane, he runs into a woman (Westfeldt, Kissing Jessica Stein) that he his it off with, and despite his resolve in leaving, he knows he'll be plagued with doubt as to what might have been if he doesn't find out if they are meant to be. Owen decides to stick around a few more days to find out what fate has in store.
How to Lose Your Lover has the stuff to be a smart independent romantic comedy, with a nice collection of characterizations, an interesting premise, and a likeable cast. What it lacks is genuine laughs and more interesting conflicts, as the plot is merely a set-up to something much larger, an intangible something that never takes place. For what it is, it's a mildly entertaining sitcom-depth tale (writer-director Hawley's career has been mostly as a TV scribe), and with a few less obvious contrivances, perhaps the film could have gotten a charitably passing grade for rom-com fanatics.
A little more truthfulness would have gone a long way, as we never truly get a feel for just who these people really are. Independent romantic comedies are generally more personal in their approach than mainstream commercial productions, but Hawley's screenplay and approach is stuck halfway in between, not really daring enough to be independent, and not really broad enough in its delivery to reel in audiences that love quirky comedic fare.
How to Lose Your Lover has all of the tools and talent on board for an amusing 90-minute diversion, but after the first half hour has passed, it becomes less and less interesting, ultimately ditching whatever credibility it might have had for a pat and predictable (and not altogether convincing) happy ending. While it's on, it's an easy enough watch, but you'll probably be hard-pressed to remember such a generic-titled piece of fluff as little as a week after viewing it.
©2006 Vince Leo