“How to Lose Friends”? Make a wimpy satire

Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst have "a shared moment" in the wimpy "How to Lose Friends."

Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst have a "shared moment" in the wimpy "How to Lose Friends."

If I were to be kind, I’d say “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” based on Toby Young’s razor-sharp 2003 memoir on his failed writing stint at Vanity Fair, is a passable, uninspired romantic comedy masquerading as a satire. But I don’t want to be kind, mostly because screenwriter Peter Straughan wastes boatloads of promise on mindless slapstick. No, “How to Lose Friends” is, in fact, a toothless satire that devolves into an insipid, grating rom-com with a paint-by-numbers ending. Simon Pegg (so great in “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead”) figures prominently in said ending, starring as Sidney Young, a British tabloid journalist who takes a job at NYC’s Sharps Magazine, owned by tycoon Clayton Harding (a ho-hum Jeff Bridges). A rebellious, “principled” writer, he ignores the magazine’s caste system and clashes with everyone, including snarky but kind coworker Alison (Kirsten Dunst), a slimy editor (Danny Huston) and a sexpot young actress (Megan Fox). Director Robert B. Weide ruins good performances — Pegg is droll and delightful; Dunst is sweet, not cloying; Fox is, well, a fox who understands comic timing  — with far-too-long gags involving pig urine, a dead Chihuahua, half-masticated sandwiches and more. Ugh. Go see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” instead; expect twice the bite and half the crushing disappointment.

Grade: D-

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One Response

  1. I’ve just been trolling through some of your early posts and found this. I also saw your post about your aversion to foreign films, which saddens me, and I say that here because if you did like them you’d know that this film throws away the excellent, merciless indictments and satire of Young’s memoir in favor of, wholly without reason, remaking La Dolce Vita as a comedy. Remember how Allison said it was her favorite film, and then at the end they make up AT A SCREENING OF LA DOLCE VITA? I’m sorry, just thinking about it makes me mad.

    I love Simon Pegg, but he was totally wrong for the part. Actually, that’s why he was wrong: he’s too lovable. Not that it matters, considering how the script neutered Young anyway.

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