How to lose audience interest and alienate humorous gags
Directed by: Robert B. Weide
Written by: Peter Straughan, based on the memoir by Toby Young
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Megan Fox.
The entrance to Hollywood’s ‘Shangri La’ is always cut off with a red rope, separating the media and fan-crazed commoners from the glamorous A-list stars. In some ways, average movies also have to fight their way into parties of A-list movies that have picked up fame and fortune. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is one such movie that stands at the red rope, hoping to get in but unfortunately not being on the list of brilliant romantic comedies that are basking in critical acclaim.
In the film, Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) desperately wants to a part of the Hollywood starlight as a journalist – schmoozing with stars and writing biting, honest features on the rich and famous is the big dream. But despite his perseverence it seems as though the only thing Sidney knows how to do well is to repel people with annoying qualities, rudeness and awful dancing. Or so it seems.
With an unexpected opportunity to work at Sharps Magazine and the hesitant help and eventual friendship of Alison (Kirsten Dunst), Sidney is tested to the limits in staying true to his annoying (but more authentic) self without becoming another Hollywood hack.
Just like Sidney, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People MEANS well and has enough heart to win you over despite the drawn-out story that ends predictably and rather disappointingly. Littered with gags that sometimes feel unnecessary, the film kicks off with the energy and pace Simon Pegg delivers to his performance but soon becomes bogged down with too many lessons to be learnt, unexciting results and a messy resolution to complications.
Having said that, the movie is relatively enjoyable. The comical criticism of media professionalism in the film is original, and while the same can’t be said about the movie-star caricatures, they are made funny thanks to Simon Pegg. The unsuspected camaraderie between Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst also elevate the film from just being a cornball romcom with occasional laughs. With ideas of following your childhood dream circling around the oddball duo, there is a genuineness to be found in the romantic side of things.
Since Sidney never really had friends to begin with (and without friends you can’t really lose them now can you?), I think the title of this review is a little more accurate for the film. But with certain aspects of the movie being more interesting in contrast to the millions of chick-flick rom coms out there, it seems as though How to Lose Friends & Alienate People sticks to its own sense of humour and originality with confidence without caring too much about whether it’s accepted into romantic comedy greatness or not.