How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

2008-12-22 15:16
 
 How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

What it's about:

Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) is a struggling British journalist running a small celebrity magazine, who resorts to an endless string of tricks and scams to get into red carpet events and interview the stars. He catches the eye of Sharps magazine (one of the world’s biggest celebrity/fashion publications) owner Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges), who offers him a job. Initially he tries to force his own acerbic style onto the very different work, but soon becomes infatuated with beautiful starlet Sophie Maes (Megan Fox) and starts a prickly friendship with colleague Alison (Kirsten Dunst), causing him to reconsider his position.


What we thought of it:

After the sad debacle of Run Fatboy Run (2007), it seemed that Simon Pegg would be yet another promising UK star sucked into the Hollywood machine and spat out as an unrecognisable dollop of mediocrity. Although How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is by no means brilliant, it is a neat little step in the right direction for one of England’s most promising comedy actors, and hopefully signals a return to form for the man who gave us Hot Fuzz (2007) and Shaun of the Dead (2004).

The story of How to Lose Friends is straight up romantic comedy stuff – zany underdog guy starts at new job, rubs everyone up the wrong way, finally conforms to status quo and excels, but feels unfulfilled, makes the difficult right decisions, and gets the girl. Add the fish-out-of-water element of an anarchic Brit being thrust into the sycophantic world, and it could be painfully tedious. Thanks to the charming Pegg and a fine back-up cast, it all works very well and the laughs come thick and fast.

Pegg plays Sidney as conceited and extremely annoying, but likable enough to pass off as a rom-com leading man. The humour comes courtesy of his constant bumbling, be it from his toadying around the gorgeous Sophie Maes (he accidentally sends her dead fish as a gift) or the constant verbal sparring with his fellow employees. The only problem is that it is never really that clear what type of person Sidney is supposed to be – at times he is calculating and ambitious, at other times he is childishly rebellious, yet always hopelessly romantic beneath his sneering sarcasm. Pegg makes the character work, but a lot of suspension of disbelief is required if you’re to take the film as any more than fluff.

On the upside, How to Lose Friends is fast paced, and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. There is a little bit of smut, but it gets by mainly on wit and never descends to a schoolboy level like many cruder (and stupider) American comedies in the same vein. If you’re a fan of Simon Pegg, or a fan of romantic comedies, this should bring a smile to your face in a holiday season distinctly lacking in anything jolly.



Could this finally be the movie that helps Uk comedian Simon Pegg make his name in Hollywood?

What to read next: Official movie site

Warren Robertson 2008/12/22 6:31 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
If one wishes to review anything, one should at least try to establish an aura of knowledgability surrounding the subject to be reviewed before one attempts to explain why we, the readers, should pay any heed to his writings. The reviewer in this case has abosolutely no knowledge of this movie, or the actor Simon Pegg, at all and this shines through in two major ways. 1.) Simon Pegg wrote Run Fat Boy Run and it was therefore a far more accurate depictor of his standings as comedian and actor than this movie will ever be. 2.)This movie is based on a book which the writer has clearly never read or even heard about. If he had he would know it to be a very poor adaptation of the novel, which claims to be a real story. Something bound to annoy those who go because they read.
YTAH 2008/12/22 10:21 PM
Point of order: Simon Pegg did a partial rewrite on Run Fatboy, he did not write the original. Also, this is a FILM REVIEW, not a review of the book, which nobody thinks is that great anyway. (If this was a better adaptation of the book, it wouldn't be much of a movie.)
Morgan 2009/01/04 10:50 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Simon Pegg should make a point of never appearing in a movie he didn't co-write with and is not directed by Edgar Wright and doesn't co-star Nick Frost. Like "Run Fat Boy Run" and "Big Nothing", they take the glimmer of his should-be rising star. In trying to add charm to the lead character - a pretty charmless character in real life, by all accounts - the movie loses its cringe factor, which may have helped. Ricky Gervais should have taken the lead role, but even he couldn't save this limp mess.
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.