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DVD Review

DVD cover

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People


Starring: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Megan Fox, Danny Huston and Gillian Anderson
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 16 March 2009

Based on Toby Young’s international best-selling novel, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People chronicles Sidney Young’s descent from promising journalist to dismal failure at Sharps, New York’s most prestigious magazine. Sidney is convinced fame, success and beautiful girls will fall at his feet, the reality being that women cross the room to avoid him, he is an embarrassment to his colleagues and every publicist’s worst nightmare. As he begins to doubt if he can make it in America, Sidney realises he needs to clean up his act in order to get the girl, the gorgeous starlet Sophie Maes...

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is loosely based on Toby Young's semi-autobiographical novel about his time working at Vanity Fair. Simon Pegg plays Sidney Young, a keen journalist who has just started work at New York's most prestigious magazine, Sharps.

But, instead of sucking up to Hollywood's A-listers, Young wants to write witty, cutting features about the flaws of those in the Hollywood system. As he tries to work his way through the ranks, Young is thwarted at every step - partly because his ideas are not in keeping with the magazine's style and partly because he keeps butting heads with the magazine's owner (played by Jeff Bridges), who once was at the cutting edge of satirical writing but has become the thing he once most despised - a puppet of those he writes about.

When Sidney meets up-and-coming actress Sophie Maes (Megan Fox), he makes it his mission to do anything to sleep with her. But first he's got to impress her hard nosed publicist (played by Gillian Anderson) and the two didn't get off to the best of starts. In the background is Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst), Young's co-worker, who is the only person at work that he actually gets on with - although this relationship started off badly.

The biggest difference between the book and the movie is that in the original book Young is not a very pleasant man - and everything that happens to him is his own fault. Here, Young is seen more as a naive buffoon who is trying to be a good person but bad things just keep happening to him that are beyond his control. To be honest Young, as he appears in the book, just wouldn't have worked as a movie character - mainly because he's up himself. The movie version, however, is much more of a likeable character - which means that you do end up on his side as the movie progresses.

However, this did bring to mind how old Pegg is and how long (at nearly 40) he can continue to play the roguish, likeable buffoon. I was also a little horrified to discover that on more than a couple of occasions he looked a little too much like a young Jasper Carrott.

Extras include two audio commentaries (one with Pegg and director Robert B. Weide, and another with just the director); Deleted Scenes (15 min, 02 sec - with optional director's commentary. There are some interesting scenes here, especially the additional Rachel Petkoff material); Gag Reel (31 min, 51 sec collection of outtakes - with quite a few repeated); and Simon Pegg Blogs (17 min, 24 sec behind the scenes footage).

Highlights of the audio commentaries include Weide bringing up a weird theory he'd heard of why women are supposedly frightened of mice; the explanation that Charlotte Devaney (who plays Bobbie) is all woman and is part of the Narni Shakers dance troupe of erotic dancers; Pegg admitting that he acted like a fan boy and asked Gillian Anderson questions about her time on The X-Files; and the fact that the director wanted to cut Cuba's death scene from the script - as he's such a big animal lover.

While a few of the gags in this movie don't quite work, as a whole the film is pretty funny, touching and well worthy of your time.


Darren Rea

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