How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Movie Review
It's missing robots, but it does feature Megan Fox walking sensually through a swimming pool. Yes, between Transformers and Transformers 2, there was How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, a romantic comedy about the world of celebrity gossip and reporting. Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst star as two reporters who, while first at odds with one another, begin to realize their feelings. Dogs get killed in the process.
Pegg plays Sidney Young, an eccentric Brit who travels to New York to work for a prestigious celebrity magazine. Lacking the manners most Americans associate with Brits, Sidney quickly alienates everyone around him, including his coworker Alison (Dunst), his asshole of a boss (Danny Huston), rising starlet Sophie Maes (Fox), her publicist (Gillian Anderson) and the owner of his magazine, the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges. But even with the odds against him, Sidney's annoying, almost-blind persistence begins to pay off.
I referred to How to Lose Friends as a romantic comedy in the first paragraph, and by the end of the picture, it is. But this is not your typical romantic comedies. Small dogs get squashed by sculptures. Strip shows turn sour when it's revealed that the woman isn't quite a woman. References to The Big Lebowski abound. Oh, and Megan Fox gets Simon Pegg to dance around like a little piggy.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is like Simon Pegg's other 2008 movie Run Fatboy Run, in that it's amusing but not perfect by any means. Thankfully, How to Lose Friends is an all around better picture, thanks to a surprisingly strong cast, a witty screenplay and good chemistry among the actors. Pegg and Dunst actually work pretty well together, and Fox plays her part well. Bridges is entertaining (though not utilized to his full potential), and Huston plays the jerk-boss to perfection. Of course, it's Pegg who keeps the movie going with a performance that walks that fine line between annoying and heartfelt - did you know there was such a line? Though his character does some pretty absurd things, he remains likable and grounded; in another actor's hands (I'm thinking Dane Cook), this could have gotten ugly quickly.
The screenplay, which is based on the memoirs by Toby Young (who was apparently so annoying that he got kicked off the set), is surprisingly entertaining, with lots of pop culture references, allusions to other films (like The Big Lebowski) and a believable look at the celebrity inner circle. As entertaining as it is, there's nothing that stands out about the movie; on the romantic comedy front, it's not that cute; as an over-the-top picture, it isn't nearly outrageous enough. How to Lose Friends loses itself as it tries to be several different kinds of comedy at once, though director Robert B. Weide smoothes out the rough edges as best he can.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People isn't the greatest comedy in the world, but it has enough comedic surprises and laughs to make it well worth a viewing. Megan Fox isn't half bad, either.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.