10 October 2008

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Directed by Robert D. Weide, Written by Peter Straughan based on a book by Toby Young

Starring Simon Pegg, Megan Fox, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, and Gillian Anderson. Rated R, 110 mins.

** (out of ****)

There’s something I call the Pegg Factor, meaning that Simon Pegg is so awesome I’ll see something he’s done just because he’s so damn awesome. This applies to this movie. Perhaps the only other reason why I would go see HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE would to find out once and for all if Megan Fox can act (debatable). But instead of making this entirely about Pegg (which I will try my hardest to accomplish), I’ll try to talk about the flick a bit. Honestly, I don’t know how to review this movie, so everything’s going to be more like little scribbles of thoughts.

Sidney Young has grown up always wanting to be one of those people invited to the big Hollywood parties…by any means necessary. After a few failing attempts to be in the ‘In Crowd’, Sidney receives a phone call from Sharps Magazine editor Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) recruiting him to work on the magazine in New York. Evidently, Sydney’s own little magazine peaked Clayton’s interest. His dreams semi-realized, Sydney agrees without hesitation. Even before his first day of work, Sydney parties in the Big Apple, dancing around like a idiot and attempting to hit on miscellaneous women, one of them being a girl at a bar named Allison (Kirsten Dunst). A novelist and mild mannered, Allison shrugs him off. Imagine Sydney’s surprise when he finds her seated near him at work. Causing havoc and mischief wherever he goes, Sydney is the laughing gag at Sharps. Either he shapes up, or he’s fired. What’s a man to do?

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS is a solid comedy that doesn’t try too hard for the jokes, nor does it try to invoke some serious drama. However, what it does do is attempt to make the audience believe in a relationship between Allison and Sydney, who throughout the entire movie they seem quite platonic. But, I guess they needed a romantic subplot to hit all the formula marks.

At the very least, it’s enjoyable to watch celebrity life made fun of by the filmmakers. PRADA celebrated that sort of life, but here, Sydney wants that life, but he can’t help but notice the ludicrousness of some of the things he encounters, and aptly comments on them (much to the growing agitation of his employer).

Concerning if Megan Fox could act, if I were to judge by this, I would go with no, but this could all be related to her portrayal of this character – ditzy, dumb, and having no business being in the acting scene but her hotness got her a audition; so, I’m on the fence there.

Anderson (X-FILES) chums up a good Meryl Streep-like performance as Bitch-In-Charge woman. Also, I think this is the first time I ever noticed this woman had breasts (no, not being perverted here; they were out there for every human being to see!), and Megan Fox not so much. Anyway, the scenes she was in, Anderson stole the show due to her Icy Cool nature. Jeff Bridges sports yet another strange hairdo (is that in his contract somewhere? ‘Must have uniquely weird hair’) and acts like...well, Jeff Bridges. At least in IRON MAN, the dude was able to channel his character, but here, he’s just Jeff Bridges saying some lines of dialogue with different tones to create a disappointed or agitated atmosphere. Woopie-doopey. And finally, I have no idea why Kirsten Dunst signed on for this role. Perhaps she liked the script, perhaps she wanted to co-star with Pegg, but she adds nothing to it. Imagine Mary Jane Watson, minus the red hair and with a little bit more intelligence, you have her character.

Simon Pegg made my day with SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004), a movie I laughed with many times, but it wasn’t until HOT FUZZ (2007) that I truly, completely fell in love with this guy’s comedy. Unfortunately, I have yet to experience the inevitable awesomeness that is SPACED, but it is on my Netflix Que. Pegg starred in RUN, FATBOY RUN earlier this year opposite Thandine Newton (who makes a brief cameo here as girl Pegg attempts to pick up) and Hank Azaria, and although it was your normal everyday flick, Pegg’s comedic humor and wit helped improve the movie greatly. Same deal goes here.

Is there anything new in this movie? Nope. Does the title really make any sense in the context of the movie? Nope. Will you laugh (at least a few times)? Yep. Is Megan Fox really that hot? Eh. Is Simon Pegg awesome? Yep. Is he the entire reason to see this movie? Absolutely.


thebonebreaker said...

I keep hearing the same things about this movie ~ just the so-so of it all, which is disappointing because the movie looked good to me. (I have it in my Netflix Queue, for when it hits DVD)

You said that Gillian Anderson stole the show, which is good to hear, as I am a fan of hers! :-)

I too am a Simon Pegg fan, and Spaced has been at the top of my Netflix Queue for at least two months, with a Very Long Wait - which makes me think that it must be really good, people must be keeping the discs and watching them repeatedly :-)

Great Review!!

Anonymous said...

WHO IN THE HELL IS SIMON PEGG? I guess I need to get out more. I'm just too culturally deprived and out of the loop. Take care Andy.

Uncle Bob
Woodburn, OR