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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (AF)


Stars: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Danny Huston, Gillian Anderson, Megan Fox, Max Minghella, Bill Paterson, Janette Scott, Miriam Margoyles, Thandie Newton

Director: Robert B Weide

Apart from a happily brief but still deeply depressing shot of Ricky Gervais posing smugly on the red carpet, I laughed a great deal at the misadventures of celebrity-obsessed English minor magazine reporter/editor/publisher Pegg when, against the odds, editor Bridges gives him a lowly job on a prestigious New York magazine. It doesn’t take long for the Big Apple to bite back, though, as Pegg comprehensively blots his copybook by setting a stripper loose in the office, spitting in the lift and getting hideously drunk at a posh 4th July party and ends up being dubbed by Bridges as the magazine’s “very own idiot savant without the savant”. And Pegg’s hoped-for romance with fellow journalist Dunst, whose interests lie with another, more empowered magazine employee, also goes horribly awry

Toby Young’s memoirs of his uncelebrated stint on ‘Vanity Fair’ under power-playing editor Graydon Carter have been enjoyably used by screenwriter Peter Straughan as the basis for a lively comedy of embarrassment pacily directed by Weide (doubling in front of the camera as a party guest) who makes first rate use of his star and a well-honed supporting cast.

Pegg’s ability to be both crass and rueful and his excellent comic timing serve him very well indeed as the accident-prone star-lover, Dunst, released from her long-time romance with Spiderman, is good fun and Bridges’ riff on his laid-back character from The Big Lebowski is spot on. Huston plays pompous perfectly, Anderson adds sophisticated glamour and, for star-spotters with long memories, long-ago British star Janette Scott unexpectedly turns up as Pegg’s mother. Good fun if ultimately not that memorable.

Alan Frank

UK 2008. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 29 Sep 2008