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"How to Lose Friends & Alienate People"

Directed by Robert B. Weide.
Written by Peter Straughan.  Based on the book by Toby Young.
Starring Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Megan Fox and Jeff Bridges.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  10/1/08


Even though it's got a shitty title, the new comedy "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" (HTLFAP) delivers the laughs in spades about 90% of the time, and even as it turns romantic, it doesn't forget that it is generally a good mix of screwball and witty comedy.

That's because star Simon Pegg leaves his mark again in what should be his biggest film yet here in the U.S.; the star of imports such as "Shaun of the Dead" and the truly hilarious "Hot Fuzz" tries for a second time to win an audience here (you don't remember "Run Fatboy Run"?  Neither does the rest of America) and does a better job thanks to a great production.  Pegg stars as British writer Sidney Young, a man running his own publicity rag in England when he gets a call from a major New York City magazine editor (Jeff Bridges) to write for the I Spy division of the magazine...and Sidney jumps at the chance.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, Simon is a bit of an asshole, so between screwing up nearly every task at the magazine and offending everyone he interviews, he also finds time to pester another woman on the I Spy team, Alison (Kirsten Dunst), as well as attempt to get in the pants of movie star Sophie Maes (Megan Fox), who is strangely attracted to him as well.

The film has a great mix of laughs throughout nearly the entire running time, save for maybe the last 15 minutes.  You've got three or four legit bellywhoppers, a wide array of Good Laughs, some chuckles, and the uncomfortable "Should I Be Laughing Right Now" moments to mix in as well.  Pegg is hilarious, but the film gets good comedy out of Bridges, Dunst and Fox; even the lady that plays the super at Sidney's building gets a couple of laughs.  Add in some great sight gags--my favorite scene involves no dialogue at all, when Sidney is trying to walk down a hallway to avoid contact with the magazine owner's wife--and some yuk/nasty potty humor, and as comedy goes, I was very impressed with the variety.

The film falls victim to a horrific number of romantic comedy clichés late in the running time (can you say, Girl Wants Guy Back When Guy Has New Girl "Just Getting Dressed" in Bedroom?), and naturally, the film takes advantage of Brit-in-America moments thanks to Pegg being essentially the only Englishman in the movie.  But, those are minor quarrels; in general, "HTLFAP" is pretty solid, and I'm glad I got to see it for free earlier this week.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09