Here’s an idea of how to lose friends and alienate people – say repeatedly that you are more intelligent, experienced and witty than them. Maybe publish it somewhere that the whole world can see. Try it – it works.
Sadly this film isn’t about Cinemafool and all its brilliant nuances. It’s about an annoying journalist whose egocentric activities cause him to be hated by all… Toby Young is a real life Brit journalist, who turned his failed attempts to make it in the big U.S of A into a novel, which now plonks itself on screen for our viewing pleasure (in theory). The first in a duo of films featuring English comedians going to New York (see upcoming Gervais vehicle: Ghost Town), How To Lose Friends catapults our beloved Simon Pegg into the big leagues, staring alongside famous American actors like Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, and, errr, Gillian Anderson. Hurray for Pegg.
Unfortunately Pegg is just a puppet here, his writing talents kept far away and his comic acting skills tested against mighty jokes involving pigs and small dogs. Great! Although I’m being harsh, because among the slapstick animal gags there are some cutting asides about the biz of show, and the crass nature of that thing called fame and its relationship with the monstrous media. Take these aside and combine them with ace turns from Bridges (with a beautiful mane) and a spicy Gillian, then mix in a surprisingly good moment from Megan Fox (who for the majority is just there for the token boobs, but during a drunken poolside confession actually hits the mark about the price of fame) and you’d probably have a good film.
As it stands, though, How to Lose Friends is patchy, an odd mix of British humour and irritating set pieces (Meet the Parents-esque mistakes) with a guessable plot lacking in true originality – though it’s based on reality, the decision to add a romance element takes off the surprises, and dampens any road to redemption. Sell out your scruples and then have a change of heart, but only really celebrate that by snogging the girl you love? Wow. Plus, choosing to fill the film with the usual New Yorkisms (every taxi ride taking him past Times Square for some reason) only adds to the jaded feel. I’m sure we’ve all had enough of slightly grumpy British people wandering around the Big Apple.
Dunst does her usual Dunst (weird mouth, sassy, dimples) and though Pegg, who weirdly resembles Jasper Carrot, does a great job of becoming one of those horrendously creepy drunk guys who dances really badly and preys on anything female, his character just feels a little too hollow, too stuck in “arse hole” territory to ever really make us route for him. The laughs are few and far between and the romance too blatant to make even the newly soppy Cinemafool care, and considering the cast this is a big disappointment. But not an unexpected one. As such, How to Lose Friends demonstrates the best way to lose CF points, and drops down to CF-1. It's saved from further depths by an ace Yorkshire cave joke, which I won’t spoil just in case you watch it and fancy at least one laugh.