How to Lose Friends & Alienate People: the review
How do you make an un-likeable character likeable? Well it seems very simple: cast Simon Pegg. I was initially not looking forward to this movie. After being given a healthy sized write-up regarding the ins and outs of the film, it is describes it as having “hilarious consequences”. These two words sends shivers down my spine. I was give similar documentation for Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans. They didn’t turn out too hilarious….at all.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (HTLFAAP)is actually based on the real life memoirs of Toby Young. It seems that the real life events compared with this version would make for a very different movie. Nevertheless I soldiered on and within 5 minutes (including an attempted party gatecrash involving a pig), I had to soldier no further; I laughed…a lot.
HTLFAAP tells the story of Sidney Young (Simon Pegg); a man obsessed with “celebrity and fame”. He is a journalist who speaks his mind and doesn’t hold back on any opinion (sound familiar)? He unexpectedly gets hired by Clayton Harding: an editor of a glossy New York magazine (played by Jeff Bridges). Bridges in sadly only a few scenes explains that there are stages of celebrity hack and Sidney is merely in the first stage. What follows next is basically Pegg’s character (Young) becoming even more of a git than he is already. The only person who he continues to speak to on a level is that of Alison Olsen (played by Kirsten Dunst).
Cue a lot of Pegg acting like a complete prick, yet coming across as a character that you feel sympathy for. This is achieved through comedy, but mostly due to Simon Pegg’s excellent delivery. I just can’t think of an actor who could get away with what he does on in this film and still retain empathy with the audience.
There are many many scenes that make you laugh out loud. It is refreshing to watch a comedy film that actually makes you laugh this hard. We’ve had a year of mostly achingly bad comedies and yet this breaks that mould.
Sadly though I was left with a few unanswered questions. So much more could have done with the dynamic between Bridges and Pegg. These scenes (albeit short) were very entertaining. Similarly Gillian Anderson is barely used at all in the movie other than a few walk-on scenes.
Despite the obvious criticisms though, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is much like Hammerite…It does exactly what it says on the tin. The marketing claimed “Hilarious consequences” and they were truly hilarious. It has also been marketed as a movie based on nasty people and that is exactly what you receive.
It is strange then that this movie takes the fun out of its own industry, Any movie prepared to do that (like the Simpsons) deserves your attention.
4.5 out of 5