Right around the point horn-dog magazine writer Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) is frantically scouring a fancy garden party for cocaine so he can take advantage of the dim-bulb starlet (Megan Fox) he's been fervently stalking, the putrid showbiz comedy "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" appears to hit Defcon 5 in mistaking its brand of moral laxity for cutesy irreverence.
When Sidney's scheme is thwarted by the screenplay's need to have him do the right thing and safely drive home his drunk, depressed and lovelorn co-worker Alison (Kirsten Dunst), you then worry for her safety in such loutish hands. And she's the one we're supposed to root for him to win over.
Ostensibly a rom-com reorganizing of British author Toby Young's 2001 satiric memoir about the self-sabotaging, cheeky swath he cut through his brief celebrity journalism career at Vanity Fair, the movie version, scripted by Peter Straughan, drops its surrogate into a soul-imperiling scenario at the fictional rich-rag Sharp's: Will Sidney cozy up to celebs or be allowed to take them down in print? (And can he do both?)
But when it's not turning the real Young's escapades -- ordering a stripper to a colleague's office on Take Our Daughters to Work Day, or asking a musical comedy star upfront if he's Jewish and gay -- into lifeless comic bits, it appropriates everything else from "The Devil Wears Prada," "The Apartment" or the Farrelly brothers. It leaves the whole affair derivative, tone-deaf and garishly unfunny. Pig urine and transsexual genitalia gags jostle for position alongside forced slapstick, dumb one-liners and the film's only (unintentionally) humorous material: the disingenuous sentimentalizing of "glossy posse" outsiders who deplore what they've become after they work to acquire their every desired perk.
Director Robert Weide, whose stewardship of the TV series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" indicated an understanding of hostile laughs, can't make up his mind whether the fame-grubbing Sidney is a principled jerk, an immature closet romantic or Jerry Lewis. He's impossible to follow as a protagonist, much less care for, and the rubber-faced Pegg -- normally good at wiry slacker charm -- throws everything at the wall to little effect.
Dunst's frustrated novelist, meanwhile, is more believable when she calls Sidney "loathsome" in the first half than when affixing a moony stare at him in the second. And Danny Huston and Gillian Anderson, as a sleazy editor and icy power publicist, respectively, hit their marks with expected professionalism. But only a curtain-haired, cigarette-smoking Jeff Bridges as Sharp's impresario Graydon Carter -- I mean, Clayton Harding -- intriguingly connects institutional bitterness with A-list gatekeeping. His dismissive tossing of a crudely sloganed T-shirt of Sidney's out of a top-story window is the movie's funniest gag, and somehow acts as its perfect critique too.
MPAA rating: R (for language, some graphic nudity and brief drug material).
Running time: 1:49.
Starring: Simon Pegg (Sidney Young); Megan Fox (Sophie); Jeff Bridges (Clayton Harding); Kirsten Dunst (Alison Olsen); Danny Huston (Lawrence Maddox).
Directed by Robert Weide; written by Peter Straughan, based on the book by Toby Young; photographed by Oliver Stapleton; edited by David Freeman; music by David Arnold; production design by John Beard; produced by Young, Laurie Borg. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Movie Trailer
About the Movie "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People"
How To Lose Friends & Alienate People is directed by Oscar« nominated Robert Weide and produced by Oscar« nominated Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen. The Stephen Woolley/Elizabeth Karlsen/The Number 9 Films production was developed as part of the UK Film Council's slate funding initiative with Film4, the Irish Film Board, Intandem Films and Audley Films. It is based on the bestselling memoir by Toby Young and the screenplay is by Peter Straughan. The cast is led by Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man trilogy, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Bring It On), Danny Huston (The Constant Gardener, 30 Days of Night), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Last King of Scotland), Megan Fox (Transformers), Max Minghella (Hippie Hippie Shake) and Jeff Bridges (Seabiscuit, The Big Lebowski).
First published in 2001, Toby Young's memoir, How To Lose Friends & Alienate People, charts Young's move from London to New York to become a contributing editor at the highly prestigious Vanity Fair. Fired less than two years later, the memoir hilariously captures Young's failed attempt to take Manhattan by storm.
Toby Young reminisces: "Things really didn't work out for me at Vanity Fair, and one of the reasons was that I was just completely na´ve about what being a journalist in New York was like. I had seen films like, His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story, and I was expecting the corridors of Vanity Fair to be full of these debonair wits, trading wisecracks in-between sips from the hip flask. It was actually this incredibly rule-bound society -- much more rule-bound than the culture I'd come from. We have this idea that America's this great informal place, it's like one giant speakeasy where everyone is completely themselves. But London's quite like that; New York is nothing like that. New York's much more like London was a hundred years ago, and I felt almost like I was Austin Powers who'd come of age in this kind of permissive, swinging '60s era who'd been teleported back in time to the Victorian era."
The memoir was optioned by Film4 in 2002 and Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen of Number 9 Films approached both Film4 and Toby Young to produce it. Stephen was drawn to the memoir because, as he says, "in the book he explains why he [Toby Young] is like he is, a pain in the arse, and the self deprecation saves Toby from sheer sleaziness. It's also laugh out loud hilarious!"
Producer Stephen Woolley was aware that there needed to be changes to the memoir to make the transition to film, he comments: "The book is a series of tremendously funny but disconnected events that happened to Toby Young whilst he was working at Vanity Fair in the late 1990s. What we wanted to do was really find a spine to the tale, a romance, so that the Sidney Young not only falls in love with New York but also a character from New York who, like him, realizes that the magazine industry at heart can be corrupting."
Screenwriter Peter Straughan was brought onto the project because Producers Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen had liked his script Three Bad Men; he has previously written the screenplay for Sixty Six, which Elizabeth Karlsen also produced, and is currently working with George Clooney on Men Who Stare At Goats. Peter created the character Alison (played by Kirsten Dunst) who works at Sharps Magazine and although she instantly dislikes Sidney Young, begins to warm to his bumbling charm throughout the course of the film.
Toby Young adds: "One of the differences between the story that's told in the film and the real story, is that the film is a romantic comedy and the courtship between Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst is kind of cute and funny, and it hits a few roadblocks, then their coming together. In reality, I dated the woman for a while (who subsequently became my wife) and then she dumped me. Then I managed to persuade her to go back out with me, and then she dumped me again. And then I proposed to her and she said, 'no.' And then we went back out with each other and I proposed to her again, and she said, 'I'll think about it.' It literally took me five years of continuous stalking to get her to agree to marry me. And a film that actually, faithfully, recreated that story would be more of a dark psychological thriller than a romantic comedy!"
With a great script, the producers turned their attention to finding the right director. Stephen Woolley, Toby Young and Peter Straughan are great fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm and thought that Robert Weide, executive producer on the film, could bring that same comic sensibility to similar material. Stephen reasons that the director needed a comedy background and Robert was the natural choice, he says: "The most important thing is that this film delivers what it says on the tin: comedy. I thought that if Bob [Robert Weide] can bring half of what he had with Curb Your Enthusiasm we could have a good chance of making people laugh."
Robert Weide had been keen to do the right film for a couple of years and "a few pages into it, I thought, I really want to do this... I was really impressed with what Peter brought to it in that he kept a lot of the anecdotes and then fabricated this new story line, the love story and created new characters out of old cloth that were really interesting. It feels like an original piece in that it is not beholden to the book."
About the Cast "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People"
Simon Pegg (Sidney Young)
Winner of the Peter Sellers Award for Comedy (presented by the London Evening Standard newspaper), Simon Pegg has successfully built a body of outstanding TV and film credits, not least in the creation of the break-through Channel 4 sitcom Spaced, which went on to be nominated at the British Comedy Awards, both the UK and International BAFTAs and received a nomination for an International Emmy Award.
Simon went on to gain massive critical and commercial success with his debut feature film co-written with Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead in which he also starred as the title lead. Produced by Working Title, the film went to number one in the UK box office and top 5 in the USA box office. A brilliant debut feature, it was nominated for 'Best Film' at the 2005 BAFTAs, London Critics Circle Awards (also nominated for 'Best Screenplay'), South Bank Show Awards, the NME Awards and The British Comedy Awards. It won 'Best Screenplay' at the 2004/05 British Independent Film Awards and 'Best British Film' at the 2005 Empire Film awards.
Simon reprised his success alongside Edgar Wright with the 2007 feature Hot Fuzz which was released to much acclaim, opening straight at number one in the UK box office and reaching number 5 in the USA. Later that same year, Simon continued his run of box office successes starring as the lead in the feature Run, Fat Boy, Run which yet again opened in the top spot in the UK box office.
Simon's previous TV credits include BBC1 drama Final Demand; Doctor Who; BBC2 sitcom Hippies and the cult BBC sketch series Big Train, for which he received an RTS nomination for 'Best Entertainment Performance'. He also co-starred in the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks TV series Band of Brothers.
Simon's further feature film credits include Mission Impossible 3, The Big Nothing and The Good Night.
Kirsten Dunst (Alison Olsen)
Kirsten Dunst most recently starred in Spider-Man 3, in which she reprised her role as 'Mary Jane' for the third time for director Sam Raimi, and in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, opposite Jason Schwartzman. Dunst is also set to star in the as-yet-untitled film about Marla Ruzicka, a relief worker who advocated for Iraqi and Afghani victims of the American-led invasions of their respective countries.
Dunst's additional credits include the following: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman, directed by Michel Gondry and starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet and Mark Ruffalo; Elizabethtown, written and directed by Cameron Crowe, opposite Orlando Bloom; Wimbledon with Paul Bettany; the Mike Newell film, Mona Lisa Smile, opposite Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal; Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, opposite Tobey Maguire; the independent film, Levity, co-starring Billy Bob Thornton and Morgan Freeman; The Cat's Meow, a semi-biographical murder-mystery in which, directed by Peter Bogdanavich, Dunst portrayed Marion Davies; Bring it On, which opened number-one at the box office; the critically acclaimed Sofia Coppola film, The Virgin Suicides, with James Woods and Kathleen Turner; Crazy/Beautiful, directed by John Stockwell; Drop Dead Gorgeous with Ellen Barkin and Kirstie Alley; Dick with Michelle Williams; Little Women with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder; Jumanji with Robin Williams; Mother Night with Nick Nolte; the Barry Levinson film Wag The Dog starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro; Neil Jordan's Interview with the Vampire, with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt; and Small Soldiers with the late Phil Hartman.
With a growing list of accolades befitting an actress 10 years her senior, Dunst's performance in Vampire earned her a Golden Globe nomination, the Blockbuster Video Award for "Best Supporting Newcomer" and an MTV award for "Best Breakthrough Artist." The Hollywood Reporter also named Dunst as "Best Young Star" for her portrayal of a teenage prostitute in NBC's hit series, ER.
Dunst got her showbiz start at the tender age of three, when she began filming television commercials. With more than 50 commercials under her belt, she made the jump to the big screen in 1989 in Woody Allen's New York Stories.
Dunst's career has not been limited to the big screen. In addition to a critically acclaimed recurring role on the hit television drama ER, she starred in Showtime's The Outer Limits and Devil's Arithmetic, produced by Dustin Hoffman and Mimi Rogers; the telefilm Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy; the Wonderful World of Disney's Tower of Terror; and Lifetime Television's 15 and Pregnant.
Jeff Bridges (Clayton Harding)
Jeff Bridges, who was last seen starring opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in the smash hit Iron Man, is one of Hollywood's most successful actors and is a four-time Academy Award« nominee.
Jeff earned his first Oscar« nod in 1971 for Best Supporting Actor in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show co-starring Cybill Shepard. Three years later he received his second Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Michael Cimino's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. By 1984 he landed top kudos with a Best Actor nomination for Starman. That performance also earned him a Golden Globe nomination. In 2001, he was honored with another Golden Globe nomination and his fourth Oscar« nomination for his role in The Contender, Rod Lurie's political thriller co-starring Gary Oldman and Joan Allen, in which Bridges played the President of the United States.
Jeff recently appeared in The Amateurs, a comedy written and directed by Michael Traeger, in which citizens of a small town, under the influence of a man in the midst of a mid-life crisis (Bridges), come together to make an adult film. Last year he was in his second film with director Terry Gilliam titled Tideland where he played Noah, a drug addicted, has-been, rock guitarist as well as Stick It for Touchstone Pictures where he played the coach of a team of rule-abiding gymnasts.
The actor's multi-faceted career has cut a wide swathe across all genres. He has starred in numerous box office hits including Gary Ross' Seabiscuit, Terry Gilliam's offbeat comedic drama The Fisher King (co-starring Robin Williams), the multi-award nominated The Fabulous Baker Boys (co-starring his brother Beau Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer), The Jagged Edge (opposite Glenn Close), Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Blown Away (co-starring his late father Lloyd Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones), Peter Weir's Fearless (with Isabella Rosselini and Rosie Perez), and Martin Bell's American Heart (with Edward Furlong, produced by Bridges' company AsIs Productions). That film earned Bridges an IFP/Spirit Award in 1993 for Best Actor.
In the summer of 2004, he appeared opposite Kim Bassinger in The Door in the Floor for director Todd Williams and Focus Features that earned him an IFP/Spirit Award nomination for Best Actor. He has also appeared in the suspense thriller Arlington Road (co-starring Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack, directed by Mark Pellington.)
He played a major featured role in The Muse (an Albert Brooks comedy starring Brooks, Sharon Stone and Andie McDowell), and he starred in Simpatico, the screen version of Sam Shepard's play (with Nick Nolte, Sharon Stone and Albert Finney). In 1998, he starred in the Coen brothers' cult comedy The Big Lebowski. Before that, he starred in Ridley Scott's White Squall, Walter Hill's Wild Bill, John Huston's Fat City, and Barbara Streisand's romantic comedy The Mirror Has Two Faces.
Bridges' other acting credits include K-PAX, Masked and Anonymous, Stay Hungry, Bad Company, Against All Odds, Cutter's Way, The Vanishing, Texasville, The Morning After, Nadine, Rancho Deluxe, See You In the Morning, Eight Million Ways to Die, The Last American Hero and Heart of the West.
In 1983 Jeff founded the End Hunger Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to feeding children around the world. Jeff produced the End Hunger televent, a three-hour live television broadcast focusing on world hunger. The televent featured Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Burt Lancaster, Bob Newhart, Kenny Loggins and other leading film, television and music stars in an innovative production to educate and inspire action.
Through his company, AsIs Productions, he produced Hidden in America, which starred his brother Beau. That television movie, produced for Showtime, received a Golden Globe nomination in 1996 for Best TV/Cable Film and garnered a Screen Actors Guild nod for Best Actor for Beau Bridges. The film was also nominated for two Emmy Awards«.
One of Jeff's true passions is photography. While on the set of his movies, Jeff takes behind the scenes pictures of the actors, crew, and locations. After completion of each motion picture, he edits the images into a book and gives copies to everyone involved. Jeff's photos have been featured in several magazines including Premiere and Aperture as well as in other publications worldwide. He has also had gallery exhibits of his work in New York at the George Eastman House, in Los Angeles, London and San Diego.
The books, which have become valued by collectors, were never intended for public sale but in the fall of 2003, powerHouse Books released Pictures: Photographs By Jeff Bridges, a hardcover book containing a compilation of photos taken on numerous film locations over the years, to much critical acclaim.
Proceeds from the book are donated to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a non-profit organization that offers charitable care and support to film-industry workers.
A few years ago, Jeff fulfilled a life-long dream by releasing his first album, Be Here Soo" on Ramp Records, the Santa Barbara, CA label he co-founded with Michael McDonald and producer/singer/ songwriter Chris Pelonis. The CD features guest appearances by vocalist/ keyboardist Michael McDonald, Grammy-nominated Amy Holland, and country-rock legend David Crosby. Ramp Records also released Michael McDonald's album Blue Obsession.
Jeff, his wife Susan and their three children divide their time between their home in Santa Barbara, California and their ranch in Montana.
Danny Huston (Lawrence Maddox)
Danny Huston has followed in the family tradition of pursuing a varied creative career. A writer, director and producer, Huston broke through as an actor with his highly acclaimed performance in the independent film Ivansxtc. The Bernard Rose directed feature was nominated for several 2003 Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Male Performance for Danny's portrayal of Hollywood talent agent "Ivan Beckman." Danny has worked nonstop as an actor ever since.
Recent work includes Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar« nominated Children Of Men opposite Clive Owen, Peter Berg's The Kingdom starring Jamie Foxx and David Slade's sophomore film 30 Days Of Night starring Josh Hartnett. He has also starred in the critically acclaimed Australian western The Proposition alongside Guy Pearce and Emily Watson, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Also from 2006 was the Fernando Meirelles project The Constant Gardner in which Danny appeared opposite Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, and for which he received the Golden Satellite Award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Sandy Woodrow. He can also be seen in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.
In 2003 Danny worked on the Martin Scorsese project The Aviator alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Alec Baldwin, for which the ensemble cast was nominated for a 2004 SAG award. Danny also starred in the film Birth opposite Nicole Kidman, directed by Jonathan Glazer. He also appears in 21 Grams, Alejandro Inarritu's third feature-length film. He has collaborated several times with directors Mike Figgis and Bernard Rose and was the lead in John Sayles' Silver City opposite Chris Cooper and Daryl Hannah.
His upcoming releases include Oliver Parker's Fade To Black with Christopher Walken and Paz Vega in which Danny starred as Orson Welles, Boogie Woogie with Heather Graham and Gillian Anderson, Laundry Warrior with Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush.
Born in Rome, Danny was raised in Ireland and London with stops in Mexico and the United States. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Gillian Anderson (Eleanor Johnson)
Gillian was born in Chicago, Illinois. When she was two, her parents moved their family to London where she spent the next nine years of her childhood. Eventually they moved back to the United States and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gillian began acting in community theatre productions while in high school and then proceeded to study acting in college where she obtained her BFA degree from the prestigious Goodman Theater School at Chicago's DePaul University. Upon acquiring her degree, Gillian headed off to New York, at the age of 22, to pursue her career in acting.
She performed in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends, for which she won a Theatre World Award in 1991. In addition she also appeared in Christopher Hampton's The Philanthropist, at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT. It wasn't long before she finally decided to relocate to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television.
In September of 1993 she auditioned for a pilot for Fox called The X-Files. It was for the role of Dana Scully. This role would jump start her career and win her much approval and worldwide recognition. Through the next nine years, her portrayal of Dana Scully offered her countless nominations, as well as two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one Emmy, and one Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series. In 1998, she carried her role of Dana Scully over into the motion picture adaptation of the show. In 1999 she made The X-Files history by becoming the first woman to write and direct an episode of the series entitled All Thing".
Gillian's other feature film credits include the Miramax features, The Mighty, starring Kieran Culkin, as well as 1998's Playing By Heart, alongside fellow cast members Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Angelina Jolie, and Madeleine Stowe among others.
House of Mirth, directed by Terrence Davies, was released in December 2000. The film was listed among the Top 10 films of the year 2000 by critics from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, New York Daily News, The Village Voice, and the New York Press. For her portrayal of Lily Bart, Gillian won the British Independent Film Award for Best Actress and the Best Performance Award from the Village Voice Film Critic's Poll.
Gillian was able to pick up an Audience Award at the IFTA Awards for her role starring alongside Robert Carlyle in the popular film The Mighty Celt, directed and written by Pearse Elliot. Also, Gillian had a cameo role in the hailed comedy, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, which gained rave reviews here and overseas.
Charles Dickens' classic was brought back to life in the BBC miniseries Bleak House, where Gillian Anderson starred as the cold Lady Dedlock. A critically acclaimed performance by Gillian earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) for 2006.
Gillian recently starred in the Oscar«-winning The Last King of Scotland, directed by Kevin MacDonald and starring Forest Whitaker. Gillian has several projects scheduled to begin production later this year including a film version of The X-Files, which will see 'Mulder' and 'Scully' reunited, Boogie Woogie and Smell of Apples.
Megan Fox (Sophie Maes)
Megan Fox has quickly become one of Hollywood's most sought-after young actresses.
Fox has most recently starred as Mikaela in Transformers, directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg. The film broke July 4th US box office records with takings of $29.1 million and has gone on to smash records around the world.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Fox began taking dance lessons at the age of five and continued her training when the family moved to Florida when she was ten. There she began classes in drama and modeling, and at the age of 13 had already won some local renown.
Fox made her film debut as a spoiled teenage heiress in Holiday in the Sun starring Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. In 2004 Buena Vista released the comedy Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen in which Fox costarred with Lindsay Lohan for director Sara Sugarman.
On television Fox starred on ABC's popular comedy series, Hope and Faith, alongside Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford. Her additional television credits include series regular roles on The Help, Ocean Avenue, the ABC telefilm Crimes of Fashion, and episodes of What I Like about You and Two and a Half Men.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Movie Review & Trailer
Film Critic Michael Phillips Reviews the Movie How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Starring Simon Pegg, Megan Fox, Jeff Bridges, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Huston
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Movie Review, Movie Trailer, Movie Production Notes, Synopsis, About the Movie, About the Cast