Those going to watch How to Lose Friends and Alienate People to see if Simon Pegg has sold out to Hollywood. The answer is he hasn't. Those going to see it to see if its a faithful adaptation of Toby Youngs book. It isn't. Those looking to see if its a Curb Your Enthusiasm for the big screen, not quite. But, more importantly than any of these, anyone going to watch this film needs to know one thing. Its a rom-com. Going in with this prior knowledge will help your enjoyment ten-fold. And thankfully its a very, very good rom-com.
Sidney Young (Pegg) is an independent magazine writer with a skeletal staff of bickering idiots. When the head of a major American 'high society' magazine (Jeff Bridges) offers him a job Sidney jumps at the chance. Instead of playing by the rules and doing as he's told Sidney's tactless approach to co-workers and stars alike makes him unpopular but noticed. When he becomes close to fellow journalist Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst) he begins to struggle over what he really wants. Fame or Intergrity?
The original memoir had Toby Young lusting over supermodels and generally bitching about the shallowness of celebrity while desperately trying to be included in it. While this may have been a lot of fun (and more biting) in a pseudo documentary format to make it as a 'movie' movie Sidney/Toby has to be more likeable. Enter Simon Pegg and writer Peter Straughn who make the lead not only likeable but, at times, an actually bloody hero. Yeah he can be an arrogant cock, he has a terrible case of foot in mouth but he's moral, fair and in a world full of hypocrites these things stand out like a fat chick at an aftershow party.
With some great British quotable lines ("I've got cock on my hand") and great American farce (the dead dog and stripper are pure Curb) How to... works well for almost all the running time. It loses its way narratively when its becomes clear just how its all going to end but with references to Its A Wonderful Life, The Big Lebowski and Star Wars all in the first reel and a stupidly heartfelt romance at its core it ticks many a box for me. Also it has the idea that working on writing with integrity and passion is reward enough. I have to say that personally...Bollocks to that I've watched 146 films this year, reviewed every one and no-one has offered me so much as a sniff at a paid job. My contact details are on this page. Someone please give me a fucking break. Then hopefully my Alison will follow.