How To Lose Friends & Alienate People is based on the memoirs of Brit journo, Toby Young, who entered the bland and fickle world of celebrity when he landed a role at Vanity Fair in the 90s. However, as the book and film are quick to point out, Young’s self-appointed media anarchist was as ridiculous as those he was trying to bring down; an annoying, cocky young upstart with a penchant for transsexuals and cocaine-fuelled sing-a-longs at office parties.
In Robert Weide’s film, the central character (renamed Sidney Young for the screen) has been tweaked and injected with a little more humanity thanks to the expert casting of the always amiable Pegg, an actor who’s able to undercut his cocksure shenanigans with a kind of sorrowful likeability. Certainly, without Pegg’s charming screen presence, the ensuing journey wouldn’t have been half as funny, cringe-inducing or entertaining.
Pegg’s protagonist is a London-based journalist and editor for the satirical, Post Modern Review, a smart and scathing attack on celebrity culture. When the latest issue of Sidney’s publication lands on the lap of Clayton Harding (Bridges), the head of New York’s most prestigious fashion magazine, Harding is struck by a moment of nostalgia (when he too was a young, bitter journo with anti-establishment views) and hires Sidney to work for him.
What follows is an amusing fish out of water tale in which Sidney attempts to juggle integrity and sycophancy while he a) tries to get into the panties of the latest vapid young starlet, Sophie Maes (Fox) and b) alienates what could be his only true kindred spirit in the entire Big Apple, fellow workmate, Alison (Dunst). The palatable broad comedy and the barrage of brilliant supporting performances (from Huston’s slimy celebrity ass-kisser to Bridges’ straight talking — if underused — Clayton Harding) provides an entertaining if not always effective insight into the cutthroat world of media journalism – kind of like a bloke’s version of The Devil Wears Prada, only with more ladyboys.
EXTRAS *** An audio commentary with director Weide and star Pegg, a second commentary with just Weide, deleted scenes, 30 minutes of gag reel footage and six Simon Pegg video "blogs".