Remember when someone thought that Simon Pegg could be the British Seth Rogen? There was a point where Pegg starred in a handful of films that wound up in theaters as the push to make Pegg the next great comedy star after Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead brought them to prominence in American audiences came with two films before the reboot of Star Trek. Run, Fatboy, Run was a delightfully British comedy that didn’t quite find an audience in America.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, his follow up, didn’t find an audience in America or Britain and the Pegg experiment seemed to fail once The World’s End and Paul didn’t find audiences either.
Pegg plays Sidney Young, writer for a far left magazine that inexplicably winds up working for a prestige magazine in New York City. Trying to find his niche at the paper, which seems to be more interested in appeasing celebrity culture than mocking it as Young would prefer, the film follows him as he tries to woo a celebrity (Megan Fox) while dealing with the craziness that happens at the magazine.
Based on the memoir of the same name by Toby Young, while bearing little resemblance to it, the film was tailored for Pegg but it just doesn’t work all that well. Pegg’s a funny comedic actor when given the right group of actors around him, and the right material, and he doesn’t have either for this.
This is trying to be a biting, insightful dark comedy about the perils of making it in entertainment journalism and the film doesn’t want to get as dark as it wants. There’s enough bite to see where they want to go, and make it look like a dark comedy in a trailer, but the film just doesn’t quite have that extra bite to really make it sting.
It wounds but never goes for the kill.
This is a film that wants to be the great torch on Hollywood culture, and their sycophants in the media that enable it, but unfortunately pulls so many punches in search of a happy ending that it can’t quite find the rhythm it starts out going for. It winds up being a forgettable film, nothing more.
MGM presents How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Directed by Robert Weide. Starring Simon Pegg, Gillian Anderson, Megan Fox, Jeff Bridges, and Kirsten Dunst. Written by Peter Straughan. Running time: 110 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: 11.24.2015
Tags: Gillian Anderson, how to lose friends and alienate people, Jeff Daniels, Megan Fox, Simon Pegg