How To Lose Friends And Alienate People

How To Lose Friends And Alienate People


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

A message movie about the perils of attempting to climb the Hollywood media ladder, or a light-hearted rom-com with slapstick? Sadly, Robert B Weide's flick isn't quite sure what it really wants to be. Never really settling, it's caught between a Devil Wears Prada-esque satire and a Richard Curtis-wannabe romance.

Finding it difficult to get anywhere career-wise, British journalist Sidney Young (Pegg) jumps at the chance when former idol Clayton Harding (Bridges) offers him a job at New York's Sharps Magazine. Unfortunately, after annoying his line boss (Huston), a glamorous actress (Fox) and her publicist (Anderson) he realises that getting anywhere means selling out. However, when he loses the only nice person he knew (Dunst) in this pursuit, Sidney starts to question what he really wants.

Copy picture

Though differing considerably from Toby Young's notorious 2001 source novel (based upon the author's time at Vanity Fair), Weide's adaptation remains true to the core idea; success in celebrity journalism is more reliant on pleasing 'important' suits than talent. Still, aside from the odd bite and some nice material about pursuing a life of worth (including a surprising appearance from the always-quality Bill Paterson), the end product is a missed opportunity.

In the plus column, the cast is sterling. Jeff Bridges brings class way beyond what he's given to work with, Danny Huston is a suitably slimy boo-hiss baddie and Megan Fox shows she has comedic ability behind all that lip gloss (not that any guy watching will notice). Kirsten Dunst and Gillian Anderson (still Scully - sorry) play their parts to a tee as the love interest and bitchy PR respectively, but it's the Peggster who shines brightest.

More likeable than he should be despite a rather muddled arc, he's better than about 98% of other comic actors out there at physical comedy and you can't help but feel he had a hand in the more clever laughs. For example, the Lector-ish "I bet you couldn’t wait to get out, get anywhere, get all the way to the NYC” is pure Simon Pegg.

With too many obvious gags, it won't lose mainstream viewers, but given the selective type of audience member who'll like it (aspiring journos with a soft spot for sentimental romance) it might alienate a few. Like our lead character, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People isn't really sure what it wants to be and never makes it to the hallowed seventh floor.

Reviewed on: 18 Oct 2009
Share this with others on...
How To Lose Friends And Alienate People packshot
Can a British journalist hack it in the New York world of a fashion magazine.
Amazon link

Read more How To Lose Friends And Alienate People reviews:

Adam Micklethwaite ****

Director: Robert B Weide

Writer: Peter Straughan, Toby Young

Starring: Simon Pegg, Gillian Anderson, Jeff Bridges, Kirsten Dunst, Megan Fox, Danny Huston, Max Minghella

Year: 2008

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


CFF 2008

Search database: