How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

"Terrible"

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Review


A comedy that misfires is not a catastrophe. After all, being unfunny is not the worst cinematic crime. Wasting the talents of Simon Pegg, however, surely mandates some kind of conference with the World Court in The Hague. From his cult TV series Spaced to the brilliance that is Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this British actor is wit incarnate. But put him in projects outside his partners in satire (Edgar Wright and Nick Frost), and he flails like a fat boy running. Now comes How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, a worthless excuse for a laugh-a-thon that elicits more groans than giggles.

UK journalist Sidney Young (Pegg) is desperate to make it big. He will do anything to crash celebrity parties and get a scoop. His hijinks grab the attention of Sharps magazine publisher Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges), and soon, the Brit finds himself in New York, working at the influential rag. Under the editorship of Lawrence Maddox (Danny Huston) and with the help of fellow reporter Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst) he soon discovers that a life covering the limelight isn't all its cracked up to be. As a matter of fact, it turns out that power-mad publicist Eleanor Johnson (Gillian Anderson) controls most of the magazine's celebrity content, and if Sidney wants to succeed -- and get to date her sexy star client Sophie Maes (Megan Fox) -- he better learn how to make her happy.

Bereft of a single saleable joke and aimlessly trying for Devil Wears Prada territory, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is an unholy and unbridled mess. It's the kind of movie that dictates your reaction by how desperate and/or disengaged the characters are onscreen. In the frantic department is star Pegg, who appears to be throwing everything he's got at the camera. Between shamelessly mugging and random bitter bon mots, he's the least humorous element in a narrative that can't find a comic center. He's joined in anxiousness by Dunst, who removes most of her bubbly persona to play dour and moody -- and these are supposed to be the characteristics we root for and identify with.

On the "couldn't care less" side is Bridges, gray hair needing a good shampoo and mannerisms revolving around how he holds a cigarette. His line deliveries seem lifted from a first reading of the script and when forced to put his foot down, he's more passively peeved than irate. About the only element in this tepid TMZ tell-all (based on real-life reporter Tobey Young's memoirs of his time at Vanity Fair) that works is Fox's flummoxed starlet. She manages the movies only chuckle -- a movie trailer for a mock Mother Teresa biopic. Paired up with an equally effective Anderson and forced to do dopey, she at least manages to make her one-note facet function.

But the biggest problem facing How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is the lack of legitimate cleverness. Clearly, director Robert B. Weide (producer/director of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm) thinks that pig urine and dead Chihuahuas are funny. He also enjoys naked transgender riffs, especially when little kids are involved. His style is so scattered he'll try anything -- slapstick, spoof, sarcasm -- to tickle our ribs. All he manages to influence is our other "gag" reflex, and not even Pegg can prevent that.

With a romance we could care less about and villainy that earns no comeuppance, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People fails on all fronts. It can't decide if it wants to be factual or farcical. By wasting Pegg, it ends up being a felony.

Lost from the get-go.



How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd October 2008

Box Office USA: $2.5M

Distributed by: MGM

Production compaines: UK Film Council, Intandem Films, Number 9 Films, Film4, Aramid Entertainment Fund, Lipsync Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 70

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Robert B. Weide

Starring: Kelan Pannell as Young Sidney, as Sidney's Mother, as Sidney Young, as Sophie Maes, as Eleanor Johnson, Kelly Jo Charge as Apollo Awards Presenter, Christian Smith as Apollo Awards Guest, Katherine Parkinson as PR Woman, as Clipboard Nazi, as Herself, as Alison Olsen, as Clayton Harding, as Post Modern Review Staff, as Post Modern Review Staff, as Ingrid, as Lawrence Maddox, as Mrs. Kowalski

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot...

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of...

Money Monster Movie Review

Money Monster Movie Review

A sleekly made thriller with a sparky sense of humour, this is also a rare...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Advertisement
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.