How to Lose Friends and Alienate
How to Lose Friends and
Alienate People has a clever title (a play on the famous self-help book
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie). It
is loosely based on a memoir of the same name by British journalist Toby
Young - who went from publisher of a snarky low-level entertainment 'zine to
a job at the venerable magazine Vanity Fair, where he promptly
crashed and burned.
In the movie, Toby's name
has been changed to Simon and Vanity Fair has become Sharp's Magazine. (Names changed to protect the guilty?) However, the
basics are still there - smalltime Brit journo comes to the US in order to
make his way into the inner circle of show business - only to find when he
gets there that it is kind of shallow.
How to Lose Friends and
Alienate People is The Devil Wears Prada for film geeks.
Since I also occupy this
world - though admittedly on a much lower level - I know that much of what
happens in the movie is bull. Journalists - even the higher level ones
- do not accompany actresses on the red carpet. They are behind the
barricades yelling out questions. Writers do not get invited to
private parties in a star's hotel room. They are not offered sex by
their interview subjects.
completely unrealistic, I did enjoy How to Lose Friends and
Alienate People. However, even though it is
British comic Simon Pegg
(Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) plays Young - a cynical, snarky, totally
anti-elitist film writer (he seriously argues with film professionals that
Con Air was the best film ever). After a rather strained set of
circumstances with a black-tie party and a pig, Young is somehow offered a
shot to write for one of the most respected journals in the world.
He's honestly more than a
bit of a wanker - the kind of guy who would go to the first day in his dream
job dressed in a t-shirt which reads "Young, dumb and full of come."
He's the kind of guy who would get high and dance and sing on the roof at
his boss' party. He's the kind of guy who would order up a transsexual
stripper for his editor, never taking the time to find out that it is
We never know quite why his
boss (a gruff-but-charming Jeff Bridges) hired him or why he keeps Young around,
though it is suggested that Young reminds him of his own younger days at a
Young refuses to play the
game, not willing to work with a frosty publicist (Gillian Anderson) to do
puff pieces on her clients - even though the more pointed stories he is
writing do not get published. He also gets a major crush on a
beautiful-but-shallow young actress (Megan Fox) who has a buzz role in a
cheesy-looking biopic exploring Mother Teresa's youthful romantic
The only friend he has at
the magazine is a cute editor (Kirstin Dunst) - who hated Simon on first
meeting, too, but eventually (and perhaps a bit too suddenly) starts to see
the good in the man.
Will he give in and become
part of the glitterati? Will he abandon his ideals for a shot to get
into the ingénue's pants? Will he ever notice that the lady editor is
not only adorable but respects him artistically and doesn't make him do a
It's not overly surprising,
but that's okay. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is a
mostly enjoyable workplace romance and worth the trip.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: February 13, 2009.