How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Gillian Anderson Directed by: Robert B. Weide
This film could easily be summed up in a one paragraph review. It’s a cookie-cutter comedy where the born loser who likes a girl hits the big time while alienating the object of his affection. Actually, the film can be summed up in one sentence and that’s the problem with Robert B. Weide’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. The film (figuratively) has already been made before using different characters and different settings but the spirit of the movie remains unchanged. You’ve seen this movie before and you know where it is going and what is going to happen only after a few scenes.
Simon Pegg plays Sidney Young, a journalist for a trashy entertainment tabloid in England who suddenly gets hired by the swanky Sharps magazine in New York headed by Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges). Young idolizes Harding as they have the same background since Harding worked his way up through the tabloid magazines himself. However, Young realizes that Harding has changed and works in conjunction with the fashion and entertainment industry rather than act aggressive towards it. Pegg works alongside Alison Olsen (Kristen Dunst) and the two originally do not get along but begin to warm up to each other as they begin to admire each other’s quirkiness. While Young has warm feelings for Olsen, he begins to fall hard for Sophie Maes (Megan Fox), an actress who is the complete opposite of Olsen; narcissistic, arrogant, and self-absorbed. Originally, Young feels it would compromise his journalistic integrity to work alongside Maes and her publicist Eleanor Johnson (Gillian Anderson) to further Maes career. However, Young soon becomes obsessed himself with success and begins to fall in line just like Harding did so many years before; even if that means stepping on people like Olsen in the process.
While it is easy to complain that the movie is formulaic, it is still enjoyable. The comedy is there and there are some really funny in the movie that will make you laugh out loud (such as the stripping transvestite). There are some scenes that are so stupidly ridiculous, it’s hilarious (like the thought of Maes playing the lead role in a Mother Teresa biopic). Most of the actors in the movie play their parts well. Pegg shows off his incredible comedic talents and knack of proper timing to get the most laughs out of a punchline. Dunst performs well too, acting as the perfect balance for Pegg’s buffoonery.
That brings us to Megan Fox who probably couldn’t handle the role of being a tree if the script called for her to do that. She is a horrible actress and the only reason why she is famous at all is because she looks good in a pair of jeans. Even though her character is supposed to be hated by the audience, it doesn’t work. It’s easy to hate her but that’s because her performance is awful and you would probably rather have a maple tree playing her role than Fox herself. Even though her character is supposed to seem like an idiot with no real personality, it doesn’t feel like Fox is doing acting whatsoever and just looks like she is only reading lines from a script. There are times where you get the feeling that Gillian Anderson was looking at her and wondering why she herself is only getting bit roles compared to the twig next to her with no talent.
Megan Fox aside, the movie is still enjoyable to a certain extent. There are jokes that are funny and you do begin to sympathize with the characters but you will most likely forget about this film two seconds after the credits roll. It’s a good film but not good enough to be remembered. It offers nothing unique and doesn’t try to be original at all. It’s worth a look but don’t think for a second that this film could be Simon Pegg’s next Shaun of the Dead.