It’s not that you’ll be completely disappointed when you go to see How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, but there will be an underlying feeling that director Robert B Weide could have done more with the movie. The film sets itself up as a Devil Wears Prada re-shoot, substituting the quite lovely Anne Hathaway for the quite fumbly Simon Pegg. What follows is the all too familiar story of the power of love and finding yourself, even if it means giving up all you strived to achieve.
After a semi successful journalistic prank, Sidney Young (Pegg) finally gets the chance of a lifetime to go to New York and work for the hip and trendy Sharps magazine. The periodical’s owner and once hero of Sidney’s is none other than Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges). A hard ass boss who seems to like making the “I’m not amused” face more than Donald Rumsfeld. Kirsten Dunst plays the cute and business minded co worker who doesn’t care much for Sidney’s antics, but you know the two will wind up together in the end. Throw in a sexy young starlet love interest (Megan Fox) and her well known overseeing agent/publicist (Gillian Anderson) and we have a basic movie formula.
The film delivers some distinctly funny moments, including a hilarious, bring your daughter to work scene and some of those often amusing, “welcome to New York City” scenarios. However, there are only so many times the audience will fall for the, “Ooops I didn’t mean to do that” gag. Pegg holds his own, but wasn’t given the supportive comedic cast that he needs to pull off the film. Dunst reminds us that she’s still in Hollywood, but you can’t quite figure out why. What’s really troubling is that Gillian Anderson is extremely underused, she has no interesting dialogue to work with and ultimately ends up becoming just another cog in the machine. Shame on you Robert Weide. Didn’t you direct and produce episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm“?
So if you’ve already seen Burn after Reading and don’t care for talking Chihuahua’s, or Bill Maher making fun of religion, I suppose How to Lose Friends is a decent comedy alternative. Personally, I’d wait for the DVD, hopefully it will contain deleted scenes of Bridges and Pegg doing the Cha Cha.