How to Stop Being a Loser (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner19/11/2011

One out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Unspeakably terrible, painfully unfunny British romcom that's easily one of the worst films of the year, thanks to an atrocious script, dreadful performances, unlikeable characters and shoddy direction.

What's it all about?
Directed by Dominic Burns, How to Stop Being a Loser stars Simon Phillips as geeky James, a loser who claims he's unable to talk to women, despite his best friend being the rather gorgeous Patch (Stephanie Leonidas). When James' equally desperate other best friend Ian (Richard E. Grant) commits suicide following a last ditch attempt to chat up a stranger (Jill Halfpenny), James is urged to learn how to talk to women before it's too late, thanks to a video message that Ian recorded for him moments before his death.

James duly seeks the advice of under-attended motivational speaker Ampersand (Craig Conway), a disciple of legendary ladies man and self-help guru Zeus (Martin Kemp). Soon, he's feeling confident enough to try his luck with long-term crush Hannah (Gemma Atkinson), but is she really the dream girl he thinks she is? Meanwhile, the entire film is structured with James relating his story to a seemingly inappropriate therapist (Colin Salmon).

The Bad
The performances are shockingly bad: Phillips makes a deeply unappealing lead and resorts to almost constant mugging and grimacing, while Atkinson delivers all her lines like she's reading them off an autocue – there's one moment in particular where you can see her actually waiting for her cue from another actor in a crowd scene. Conway at least puts some energy into his performance but he's never remotely convincing as a ladies man so his chat-up scenes are ridiculous.

That said, Stephanie Leonidas is actually quite good, as she's the only character in the film that actually comes across as a real person and not a caricature, but she's not in it enough to rescue the film. Similarly, Kill List's Neil Maskell is equally good as a nightclub boss but it seems like his sole purpose in the film is to remind you what good acting looks like.

The Worse
The script is atrocious and there's not a single funny moment in the entire thing – basically, you know you're in trouble when even Richard E. Grant bails within the first five minutes. Some gags misfire particularly badly (such as the series of animated signs saying “Dick Head” or “Loser” over James' head in the opening credits), while the film also destroys its only real twist by introducing a character early on (Billy Murray) who doesn't appear till the finale.

Worth seeing?
How to Stop Being a Loser is a badly directed, poorly written and atrociously acted British romcom that's excruciating to watch and doesn't generate a single laugh. Avoid.

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Content updated: 18/08/2019 20:14

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