How to Lose Friends and Alienate People My Reviews 30 DEC 2008

Alienate PeopleSo after a delightful afternoon lunch with Monty and the rest of the Montgomery clan on Sunday, Chantelle and I finished off the day by catching Simon Pegg’s latest American movie attempt, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

Now the movie is touted as a romantic comedy and seeing how we thoroughly enjoyed his previous attempt at the genre in the clever Run Fatboy, Run, we had pretty high hopes for this one as well.

Well, let me start off by saying that How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is certainly a fairly funny comedy, but it kind of falls flat on the romantic side of things. To be honest, the film just fails to evoke any sense of emotion or attachment from its audience and this is a pretty big failing that in all honesty needs to be laid squarely on the doorstep of fairly unknown director Robert B. Weide (best known for his Curb Your Enthusiasm stuff) and his team of scriptwriters.

Why you might ask? Well simply put, each and every single actor appearing in the movie actually puts in near perfect and absolutely brilliant performance, that’s why! Simon Pegg plays his usual British dry physical and deadpan comedic persona to perfection (as always), and indeed 90% of the film’s laughs are evoked by the very versatile and very funny Mr. Pegg. Alongside him, Kirsten Dunst fulfills the confused colleague/love interest with a deft and witty hand and puts in a role that is simply a sheer pleasure to watch. Similarly the supporting actors like Danny Huston, Jeff Bridges and Gillian Anderson all put in great performances, though I did feel that the gorgeous Megan Fox came across quite forced at times.

That said, it might just have been her being in character, in which case I retract my negative statement. :)

The script itself is nothing mind-blowing and relies heavily on the square peg in a round hole situation that the free-spirited British journalist brings to the more stoic and professional American tabloid industry. Whiffs of romantic drama permeates the story at times, but for the most part the movie plays out as a series of comedic happenstances, the most of which play out pretty damn funnily. Of course, Simon’s hand is more than evident in a lot of the humour as there is quite a bit of his trademark dark British humour to be found and this raises the profile of what might have been a pretty dull affair just that extra little bit.

David Arnold, the current Bond franchise score provider of choice, provides the musical selection for the film and he does a credible job, serving up some nice compositions intermingled with a good choice of soundtrack songs to present a nicely polished aural package.

Oh and just by the way, the movie tells the story of a witty, cynical British tabloid journalist who gets invited to join a top-flight American tabloid operation, only to find that on arrival, he has pretty much been sidelined to the bottom of the company. A man known for his outrageous stunts and the complete and utter disrespect for any system or set of rules, he soon finds himself fighting to gain the respect he feels that he deserves from the man who brought him over in the first place. However, this battle will not make him popular and in fact, the only woman that will still talk to him happens to be the very woman who he pissed off right on his first night in America!

So the problem? Just how much of his integrity is he willing to give up in order to get what he wants?

And that’s it. In summary, if you drop the romantic expectation from this movie, then How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is a pretty funny and credible comedy that lovers of British humour and Simon Pegg in particular are sure to enjoy. Leave the romantic expectations in and you are left with a bit of a flop in terms of a romantic comedy. So take your pick: me, I went in with the wrong expectations and didn’t enjoy it all that much; Chantelle on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed it!

Go figure.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.