Monday, April 20, 2009

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

This little-seen movie is based on a book by Toby Young, who leaped from total obscurity in London to a stint at Vanity Fair, where he flirted with being seen with celebrities and nearly becoming one himself, before he was tossed back to obscurity. This movie is his autobiographical slap at those celebrities.

And so we meet Sidney (Simon Pegg), a Brit who hates all things intellectual who prints his own celebrity rag, mostly with photos of him being tossed out of a party or being slugged by Clint Eastwood. Sharps magazine Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) hires him to, well, mainly amuse himself, as there seems to be no journalistic talent whatsoever in Sidney.

The movie is a laughfest from beginning to almost end, or at least it tries to be. Many of the jokes fall flat, and most are of the stupid variety: a pig let loose in a party, Sidney wearing offensive t-shirts, a dog meeting his demise in a crude fashion (didn't we see that in Something About Mary?), a sassy transsexual, and many others. Most of what works involves any scene with Jeff Bridges, who is his drollest in this very funny role as Sidney's boss. It's also true that Pegg himself pulls some of the gags out of a hat, out of sheer magic, through the sheer force of his personality. But even he can't rescue the most stupid of stunts, a result of poor writing.

While I do feel sorry for Kirsten Dunst's career, cast here as Sidney's love interest, what she does she does do well. Her character is quite believable in that she wanted a deeper career as a writer, but found herself paying the bills with gossip news.

In spite of all the negative, I still liked most of this film. I liked watching Sidney climb the ladder, spar with both Dunst and especially Bridges, and I liked some of the celebrity twits getting their comeuppance. After all, we all want to see Pegg's character do well in spite of the fact that most of the time he's a clueless jerk.

Thumb's up if you have the stomach for it.

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