How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner2/10/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

Regardless of your feelings towards the source material, this is an enjoyable romcom with a decent script, several laugh-out-loud gags and a host of terrific comic performances from a superb cast.

What's it all about?
Loosely based on Toby Young's largely autobiographical book, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People stars Simon Pegg as Sidney Young, an obnoxious British magazine editor who longs to be a part of the glamorous world of fame and celebrity. He gets his chance when big-shot editor Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) offers him a job on New York's prestigious Sharp magazine, but it isn't long before Sidney's crass behaviour is alienating everyone from powerful publicist Eleanor Johnson (Gillian Anderson) to rising starlet Sophie Maes (Megan Fox).

Fortunately, Sidney finds an ally in his attractive co-worker Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst), who gives him some valuable pointers and manages to keep him on the right side of his smarmy boss (Danny Huston). Eventually, Sidney learns to play the game and even has a shot at a relationship with Maes, but has he sacrificed too much in the name of success?

The Good
Pegg is the ideal choice to play Sidney, as his likeable, everyman persona ensures that he remains sympathetic, even when he's at his most irritating. Similarly, the drop-dead gorgeous Fox is perfectly cast as starlet du jour Maes (her swimming pool scene is an instant classic), while Dunst gives her most likeable performance since the first Spider-Man movie and there's strong comic support from Bridges, Huston and Anderson.

The tone wobbles occasionally and some scenes don't work, but director Robert Weide generally strikes a decent balance between laugh-out-loud moments and surprisingly sweet scenes, such as Sidney and Alison dancing to the La Dolce Vita soundtrack.

The Bad
It's fair to say that you're much more likely to enjoy this if you don't actually know who Toby Young is, as the smugness factor is occasionally overwhelming.

Worth seeing?
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is an enjoyable, frequently funny romcom with a strong script and a superb cast on top comic form. Worth seeing.

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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
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Content updated: 09/12/2019 01:53

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