How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

April 8th, 2009 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

It’s a curious phenomenon when actors and directors get their start in independent, edgy or distinctive material unsullied by studio committees and the quickly whore themselves out to the Hollywood system, becoming rom-com hacks or goofy smiles for hire.

Simon Pegg is one such creature. Not that he isn’t funny in How to Lose Friend and Alienate People, but he’s so out of place in this by numbers corporate Hollywood romp in both character and personal brand.

He plays an irritating British journalist desperate to enter the inner circle of the glitterati who finally gets his chance when a gossip rag uber-publisher from New York (a wasted Jeff bridges) offers him a job.

Herein lies the first stumble. After setting up Bridges’ character as a sort of male version of Meryl Streep’s Anna Wintour-alike in The Devil Wears Prada and the magazine as a cutthroat microcosm of Darwinian ecology, Sidney (Pegg) is inexplicably not fired even though he not only achieves nothing as a columnist but manages to put everyone’s nose out of joint.

Al the satirical Hollywood conventions are in place for Sidney to travel a path that’s so well-worn it’s got track marks; when you wish to be somewhere else (the inner circle of the elite, in this case), you’re destined to realise the thing that makes you happy is to be found right where you were.

Unfortunately, there isn’t nearly enough freshness to make it work, and having Pegg in the middle of it is like a muddy, naked caveman running through an expensive restaurant, and not in a good way. The only truly funny aspect is the film with in a film of the life of Mother Theresa.


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