How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is a film that doesn’t know if it is coming or going. Is this a romantic comedy that ends with dancing in the park while La Dolce Vita plays in the background? Or is it a film that blatantly features the penis of a transvestite stripper giving Danny Huston a lap dance? Those are two ideas at opposite ends of the spectrum and this film services them both to its ultimate downfall.
Starring Simon Pegg as a shake-em-up Blighty journalist named Sidney Young, he is recruited by Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) to journey across the pond and write for Sharps magazine, the top American mag around. The film is based on Toby Young’s memoir about his time at Vanity Fair with Pegg stepping into Young’s shoes and Sharps being the Vanity Fair equivalent. The idea is to pass off mainstream media servicing PR reps more than its audiences with less than objective writing and Harding’s intention was to bring Young into the mag to shake things up, but as it turns out he just can’t go through with it.
Sidney Young is left to decide whether he wants to conform or be on his way and after his interoffice antics in the early moments of the film you would be surprised he even has a choice to stay on, but nevertheless he decides to conform and his world spirals upward to its ultimate downfall. Kirsten Dunst plays something of an outside love interest (you know, the one the protagonist doesn’t realize is The One until the end of the movie) and Megan Fox plays the dimwitted Hollywood starlet that has obviously caught Young’s eye.
It all boils down into a hodgepodge of scenes that seem to be thrown together in singular attempts to capture an audience’s attention rather than service any kind of cohesive story with a particular goal. The film is equally a coming-of-age story, a raunchy sex comedy and a sweet romantic comedy, but none of these pieces fit into the same puzzle, at least not in their current form. It’s unfortunate because there is a story to be told here and if told well it could be really, really good. As it turns out it is a ploy for laughter at whatever means necessary while at the last moment it pleads for your emotional investment, which if you are like me you aren’t ready to give up to such a lame attempt.