How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Release Date: October 3, 2008

Movie of the Day for Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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Simon Pegg is easily entertained.

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135/196 Max Braden Skip this one and rewatch The Secret of My Success.

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Epic failures are fun. You know, I know it, and everyone involved with the production of Gigli knows it. Former Vanity Fair writer Toby Young even wrote a memoir about it. During his time with the publication, he found himself stuck on the lowest rung of a rigid caste system, one where he was allowed to hang around the elite of Gotham…as long as he remembered his place. Seeing himself as little more than a caterer with an audio recorder at first, Young quickly realized that all of the manners and behavioral patterns he had learned throughout his life were exactly wrong for this world. He was alienating people at every turn.

After a while, the whipsmart journalist began to figure out ways to make the madness inherent in the system work to his advantage. He befriends a Hollywood starlet, he gets a co-worker to fall in love with him and he finds himself getting invited to more and more great parties despite almost always drinking to excess. That’s what makes Young such a confounding author. The person he describes in his books is semi-autobiographically repulsive. This is a self-centered bastard with such self-esteem issues that getting acknowledged by the In Crowd is his central goal in life. The events he attends are black tie/black heart affairs wherein everyone seems to be in a race to the bottom of the gene pool, and Young cannot wait to take his turn deep soul diving. He has been fired from his last two jobs and he seems hell-bent on proving that the third time is not a charm…or the least bit charming. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People sounds like a light-hearted comedy on the surface, but if you consider the title for a moment, it takes on a much more ominous tone, one that is consistent through the novel.

The question becomes how Hollywood will adapt a screenplay that skewers many of the people the industry relies upon for its organizational structure. This book is similar to The Devil Meets Prada in a way, but can the movie successful navigate that style without clearly labeling itself as a pale imitation? Probably not. The cast gives it a shot, though. BOP fave Simon Pegg has been cast in the lead with Megan Fox and Kirsten Dunst joining him as a diva and a co-worker/love interest/respectively. X-Files’ Gillian Anderson has been given the Meryl Streep role as a manipulative, inscrutable publicist. And Iron Man villain Jeff Bridges portrays the head of a magazine that is being called Sharps instead of Vanity Fair for legal reasons.

Frankly, on paper, this project sounds a lot like a 2000s type of Gotham-based Bonfire of the Vanities mistake. With Simon Pegg as the lead, there may be a funny and likable enough man to save it but then again, Bonfire of the Vanities had Tom Hanks and it was still a train wreck. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Main Cast Simon Pegg, Megan Fox, Kirsten Dunst
Supporting Cast Gillian Anderson, Jeff Bridges
Director Robert B. Weide
Screenwriter Peter Straughan, Toby Young
Distributor MGM
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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