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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Simon Pegg
Kirsten Dunst
Jeff Bridges
Gillian Anderson
Megan Fox
Danny Huston.
Directors
Robert B Weide.
Screenwriters
Peter Straughan.
Running Time
110 minutes

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How To Lose Friends And Alienate People
News flash: magazines employ idiots. Oh...


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Plot
Sidney Young (Pegg) is a down-on-his-luck British journalist offered the chance of a lifetime at glossy US magazine Sharps. However, his plans to conquer New York hit speedbumps in the shape of a glamorous starlet (Fox), her ruthless publicist (Anderson) and his increasingly irate co-workers (Dunst, Bridges, Huston).


Review
How To Lose Friends And Alienate People
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It should have been evident from the moment the casting was announced that there would be a huge disconnect between this film and its source memoir. The book was written by journalist Toby Young in a frank admission of his own monstrous ego when, as a young wannabe, he landed a job at Vanity Fair. As portrayed in his own tome, he’s a complete tit. Cast as Sidney Young (names changed to protect the guilty), however, is Simon Pegg, a man who can’t help but be likable even when playing numpties. It’s instantly clear that the film’s tone has shifted from Young’s bite and bile to something broader - but as a result it’s just a little less sharp.

After all, many films have pointed a finger at the absurdities of the media world - The Devil Wears Prada most recently. Young’s book was sharper than most because he was honest enough to note the hypocrisy of those, like him, who pursued stardom by proxy while denouncing its existence. But Pegg’s Sidney is more clueless scamp than obnoxious twat. Oh sure, he’s a preening idiot, a hack with a sense of entitlement far beyond his abilities - but his tendency to engage in outrageous stunts, like trying to crash the BAFTAs with a pig whom he pretends is the star of Babe, is rather winning. And his puppyish pursuit of starlet Sophie Maes (Megan Fox) has more the air of teenage exuberance about it than the sleazy feel of Toby Young’s dogged hunt for supermodels.

Should it matter if there have been changes from book to screen? Not really, except that now the film’s tone rests on shifting sand. Director Bob Weide has a light hand, but can’t quite nail a script that doesn’t settle on one mood. There’s the broad physical comedy of the opening scenes, which recurs at regular intervals to keep the plebs happy. Then there’s the fish-out-of-water comedy of the Brit abroad, for those who enjoy laughing at shallow Americans/scruffy Londoners. And there’s the witty treatment of celebrity and its assorted satellites, from Gillian Anderson’s dragon-lady publicist to Fox’s ludicrously sexy starlet. These two are the film’s secret weapons. One expects excellence from Pegg and Jeff Bridges, as former radical and Sharps editor Clayton Harding (as opposed to Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter), and they both deliver. But Anderson is the foil for the best comedy, giving a chilling portrait of the star-maker with an iron fist in her velvet glove. Fox, meanwhile, builds on that car-repairing debut in Transformers with a smokin’ turn as a Marilyn-voiced actress about to make it big thanks to a hilariously awards-baiting turn. Male viewers will probably, once again, find themselves too distracted to notice it, but it looks like she may be able to act as well. The rest of the cast get shorter shrift. Max Minghella fails to capitalise on an arrogant-wunderkind-director role, and Kirsten Dunst is stuck in a drab turn as Sidney’s only confidante in his new workplace. Much better is Danny Huston, oleaginous as Sidney’s super-smooth boss, even when faced with a transsexual stripper on Bring Your Daughters To Work Day.

With so much going on, and so many talented people involved, the funny is brought. It’s just that this feels like that rare beast: a comedy that would be better without the physical kind. It’s in the battle of wits and half-wits that this film comes to life, and reaches what Bridges’ Harding calls the seventh room, to play with the big boys.


Verdict
Not as smart or as satirical as you might hope, but an enjoyable and often funny look at a mad, mad, mad, mad world.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for How To Lose Friends And Alienate People
Empire Star Rating

massive cliche

A very odd mix, it's hard to believe that most of this stuff happened for real. Sounds like the book is totally different. This movie is just a dodgy cliched rom-com. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 12:25, 11 April 2010 | Report This Post


Somewhat like a sitcom...

Kirsten Dunst's beauty makes it for the movie. Otherwise, take it as a nice timepass. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by batbhai at 08:12, 30 May 2009 | Report This Post


How to make a movie and mildly disappoint you

Up to this point, Simon Pegg has largely relied on his "Spaced" fanbase and the sense of humour that comes from within. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were both examples of this very British humour. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is a departure, and as a mainstream comedy it works just fine. Simon Pegg's journey from naive, irritating fish-out-of-water to self aware, considerate media darling is a concise and mostly believable one, and there are laughs to be had- particular... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lukeynemo at 18:08, 06 April 2009 | Report This Post


Brilliant, Totally Funny.

I rented this title after seeing the trailer which promised a lot of laughs and it does bring it with some excellent pefomances and likeable charcters. The story begins with Sidney wanting to be a poplaur man in the celebraty magazine so when he has got the job, he has the time of his life making mistakes and also falling in love along the way. Simon Pegg is just a total genius, playing Sidney with such ease and is very good in his acting corner. Kirsten Dunst was okay as his friend-love intrest... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 09:31, 29 March 2009 | Report This Post


Cute but I lost the point where this was meant to be a satire

Simon Pegg is awesome. Jeff Bridges is awesome. Gillian Anderson is awesome. Megan Fox is reaching awesomeness. And they were all good in this movie. But I was dissappointed because I wanted a satire or a parody that really showed just how outrageous the media is. It would have been fun and there are moments when they do just that. But in the end it was just a rom-com disguised as a parody. Nothing against romantic comiedies but I would have preferred the saitre. Still, kudos to Pegg and Anderso... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mosephland at 09:20, 05 March 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Finished reading the book yesterday so decided to watch the film... Toby Young is an arrogant fucker in the book, but by casting Simon Pegg, the film falls immediately falls into a 'likable protagonist' scenario. There were flashes of Pegg showing he could act out of his likable persona, but it wasn't consistant. The film is somewhat true to Young's views on New York, especially when the affair is found out and Maddox and Olsen are sacked. Young, in the book, argues that marrying in line w... More

Posted by Sumintelligentguy at 20:04, 24 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE:

The problem with knowing who this film is based on is that you know in reality Sidney (Toby Young) Young is a cock. The first half of the film tries to make Young a likeable idiot, but fails and makes him just plain irritating. The second half of the film is much better after you warm to Sidney, although the film wanders into the usual romcom tricks (goon likes superstar, gradually realises girl in office is better). The standout feature of the film is undoubtedly Jeff Bridges as Cl... More

Posted by UTB at 11:52, 09 November 2008 | Report This Post


Simon Pegg stars as Sidney Young, a guy who runs a magazine that writes about everything they hate about fake Hollywood. When the boss of a big American star magazine (Jeff Bridges) gets a copy of it, Sidney get`s invited to come work for Bridges` magazine. He`s gonna write about the exact things he`s so against... What starts out as a hit against the fake Hollywood and really has a lot of funny scenes, the second part falls apart and turns into flawed and predictable formula film where there... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:04, 31 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Plym L: Goodfella L: Plym Simon Pegg's character, to me, was extremely unlikable... hat was the whole point wasn't it? Its based loosely on a journalist's autobiography who was a total ass when he tried to establish himself in the world of the American media. ? What a strange set-up to a movie... Make your entire cast extremely unlikable. I think the main character should at least connect with the audience in some way. They should have just done a male DWP. sp;... More

Posted by Goodfella at 09:47, 13 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Goodfella L: Plym Simon Pegg's character, to me, was extremely unlikable... hat was the whole point wasn't it? Its based loosely on a journalist's autobiography who was a total ass when he tried to establish himself in the world of the American media. ? What a strange set-up to a movie... Make your entire cast extremely unlikable. I think the main character should at least connect with the audience in some way. They should have just done a male DWP. ... More

Posted by Plym at 22:52, 12 October 2008 | Report This Post


How to lose friends...

Wasn't sure what to expect from this and to be honest was planning on waiting for it to come out on DVD. But with a free Saturday night to spare the wife and I decided to go and check it out at the cinema. And I have to say it's pretty good. If you're expecting a belly full of laughs though just because Simon Pegg is in it then you'll be disappointed. It does have its funny moments but it's not a straight out comedy. Danny Huston is superb as the slimy boss and the other actors all put in ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 13:43, 12 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Plym Simon Pegg's character, to me, was extremely unlikable... sp; hat was the whole point wasn't it? Its based loosely on a journalist's autobiography who was a total ass when he tried to establish himself in the world of the American media. ... More

Posted by Goodfella at 11:06, 12 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE:

Simon Pegg's character, to me, was extremely unlikable... ... More

Posted by Plym at 00:46, 12 October 2008 | Report This Post


Pretty decent quality film with some brilliant performances that pulled together an otherwise mediocre script. Nothing more than a typical comedy (with some romance) but well worth a watch to relax in front of. Simon Pegg remains awesome. Kirsten and Megan are lovely =P ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cluesy at 22:39, 08 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (2008)

rename the film "How to make a comedy without it being funny & alienate people" ... More

Posted by kick ass koala at 23:08, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: DJ Rob C: Mark II! Very very good.... of course Pegg is great, but so is Dunst, excels cooln expels smarm, Fox is more than just eye candy, and Anderson is perfectly bitchy.... and that's just the icing on the cake.... very very funny and a great soundtrack (just bought it)... means the best film I've seen since The Dark Knight.... 4/5 sp; Maybe he should see a doctor about that, sounds nasty ... More

Posted by OSCARDELAHOYA at 11:55, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: JV Wow, that's an amazingly narrow-minded view. It's all about opinion and in Rob's opinion it's the best film he's seen since TDK and as it's HIS opinion NOT YOURS, how can you know if it's true or false?? I don't think people are 'pretending' - I genuinely enjoyed How To Lose Friends & Alienate People and I have no particular love OR hate for Simon Pegg. ight sound narrow minded but only because I passionately believe the film's a stinker. Come on: Hellboy 2, Foot Fist Way, heck... More

Posted by robbiecollin at 21:46, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (2008)

L: Scabby ahoma]conceited pile of breastssp; p; Excellent wording!! ... More

Posted by JV at 19:58, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (2008)

Here's my review www.hecklerspray.com/movie-review-how-to-lose-friends-a nd-alientae-people/200816526.php#more-16526 ahoma]Lose Friends and Alienate People – Reviewt=tahoma]/size]e=3]e years the cinema has given us plenty of bumbling idiots on the big screen but arguably none are ever as likeable as the ones played by Simon Pegg. Returning this week in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Pegg, riding high on his popularity, plays the pretentious tit Sidney Young who manages to get a... More

Posted by Scabby at 19:28, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (2008)

I have to say, I really don't fancy it all but it's entirely possible it could surprise me. I'm on a sturdy wagon stretch at the moment and there's not much on I fancy that I ain't seen so I'll probably give it a punt this week just to get out of the house... ... More

Posted by DanCurley at 19:13, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (2008)

trailer was painful so i realy dont know if i should bother, true if it got really boring i cud just stare at megan fox...but is it worth the money? Will probably end up seeing it anyway as its the sort of film my mates would go see... ... More

Posted by richCie at 18:21, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People (2008)

Well I loved it so the mixed reaction does surprise me a little.   It was a very well cast film - Jeff Bridges is outstanding in these supporting comic roles and did well on mixing the American and English humour. Not a Simon Pegg film obviously but I think he did very well away from a Wright/Frost project.   It won't blow through and through film fans away but it was a genuinely funny and enjoyable film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Goodfella at 13:50, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I thought this film was truly awful. Boring and simply not funny at all. I was very dissapointed as I like Simon Pegg's other films.   1/10 ... More

Posted by PerfectlyFlawed at 13:37, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: robbiecollin L: DJ Rob C: Mark II! .... the best film I've seen since The Dark Knight.... he only possible way this can be true, is if you've seen no other films since The Dark Knight. HTLF is absolute rubbish, and people are only pretending it's not cos they like Simon Pegg. sp; Wow, that's an amazingly narrow-minded view. It's all about opinion and in Rob's opinion it's the best film he's seen since TDK and as it's HIS opinion NOT YOURS, how can you know if it's true ... More

Posted by JV at 10:56, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Yeah, well it is (on a par with Hellboy II).... it's not just Pegg though, like I explained earlier all the cast play a good part.... if you don't like it then fine... but I laughed more than most films I've seen recently and really enjoyed it... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 00:29, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


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