Review: How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Based on the memoirs of a bitter journalist fired from uber-cool mag Vanity Fair, it’s a little surprising this movie is so nice. Hell, based on the title I’m surprised it’s so nice. But at the risk of sounding like a joyless wanker reviewing a comedy, that’s kind of the problem with this film.

Simon Pegg stars as Sidney, a rambunctious Brit looking to make it rich and famous stateside and soon lands an entry level job at a swanky magazine. His editor (Jeff Bridges) gives him a peek into the high-flying world of the elite and Sidney is hooked. The only problem is that he’ll have tone down his in your face personality and learn how to climb the corporate ladder. It’s a pretty good comic set up, but instead of going for the barbed satire that it seems to promise, it reverts back to the standard rom-com formula. The movie can’t bring itself to really have a go at the glitzy media world because it seems enamoured with it. So instead it does the nice thing, complete with tepid romantic sub plot.

It’s Pegg’s most conventional role so far with the least chance to express his individual talents, but he still provides a few big laughs. Jeff Bridges is great as the cranky editor and the movie needed more of him on screen to cut through the treacle. It’s a perfectly acceptable date movie I guess, too nice to be actively bad. In fact, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People is as probably as good a masculinized version of The Devil Wears Prada as you’re ever likely to see. Take that for what you will.