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How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Snarky comedy about celeb culture lacks bite.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The workplace seems very high school, with the "in crowd" getting away with everything. Sidney appears to forget what matters to him and is seduced by fame and its perks, including gift bags and entry beyond velvet ropes. He does seem to find his center by the time the film ends. Some crass jokes. Some discussions about what New York women want in men, making them sound materialistic.

Violence

Some yelling. A party-crasher is hauled off by cops, and a man lunges at a woman in a public forum. More backbiting than punching.

Sex

A stripper bares her breasts in a stunt witnessed by kids; a married man cheats on his wife; a writer lusts after a Hollywood starlet, who seems keenly aware of how to show off her assets in skimpy clothing. At some point, the starlet mentions that drugs make her horny, so a man tries to procure some for her. A man takes a woman home and finds out that she's actually a he (viewers see her naked from behind, and her would-be lover comments on "her" genitalia).

Language

A blue streak, from "s--t" and "f--k" to "t-ts," "dick," and "a--hole."

Consumerism

Pretty much a catalog of tons of high-end products (Armani, Omega Speedmaster), Broadway shows (Stomp, The Drowsy Chaperone), movies (Con-Air, La Dolce Vita), and much more. The Haymarket Hotel is featured prominently.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several of Sidney's drunken moments result in offensive behavior, including mocking people out loud and even knocking them down physically. Cocaine is mentioned and later displayed in a small baggie. Specific drinks are also mentioned fairly often, including White Russians.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this snarky comedy probably isn't on too many teens' radar, though it does star up-and-comers Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) and Megan Fox (Transformers). It's got plenty of edgy content, from nudity (breasts and rear) and swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") to drinking (sometimes to excess) and drug references (there's a comic bit about cocaine).

What's the story?

Londoner Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) edits the snarky Post-Modern Review, which mocks celebrities and the establishment publications that fawn over them. His most recent issue pokes fun at Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges), the self-important, ultra-powerful editor of glam, glossy Sharps magazine. Imagine Sidney's surprise, then, when Clayton offers him a job in New York. But life in the big leagues isn't quite what Sidney expected. Rather than being allowed to flex his sardonic muscles, he ends up captioning party pictures and fielding pitches to write flattering profiles of poseur movie types. Sidney's only friend is colleague Alison (Kirsten Dunst), who manages to look beyond his idiotic stunts -- getting drunk at the company picnic, ordering a stripper for the boss -- and see the good guy beneath. Alas, she's taken, and Sidney's attracted to a busty, vapid starlet (Megan Fox) anyway. And before long, he finds himself learning to play the game -- but at what cost?

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The affable Pegg has made a name for himself playing hapless, nearly hopeless sacks who, despite some loathsome antics, manage to be appealing anyway -- and his charm still works here. It allows him to get away with most of what Sidney does (though not all -- eventually, his act grows tiresome). Dunst is a good foil for him: Alison is low-key yet tetchy and hard to faze. Bridges' character, on the other hand, seems underwritten and underplayed: Clayton could have been the perfect match for Meryl Streep's devilish, Prada-clad editrix, but he's wasted here. But Gillian Anderson is perfect playing a public relations titan. Who knew Scully could be so cold?

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE -- based on former Vanity Fair scribe Toby Young's memoir of the same name -- has bite. And it's certainly funny, if not a full-on laugh riot. But it also pulls too many punches and ultimately feels a bit timid; it doesn't skewer celebrity and celeb-mag culture as sharply as it could have (Sidney's Post-Modern Review would have gone all out). In the end, it shies away from alienating the very subject it's making fun of, which makes it not nearly as endearing as it could have been.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the celebrity culture at the center of the movie. Is the film ultimately mocking the media's obsession with stars and their lives or supporting it? Do you think the movie offers an accurate depiction of how Hollywood works -- and how celebrity coverage is shaped by publicists? Why does Sidney get lured in by the celeb culture he seems to despise? And what snaps him back to reality?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 2008
DVD/Streaming release date:February 17, 2009
Cast:Megan Fox, Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton
Director:Robert B. Weide
Studio:Number 9 Films
Genre:Comedy
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, some graphic nudity and brief drug material.

This review of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People was written by

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Kid, 12 years old March 28, 2012

Hmmm...

Well, I liked it.... No, seriously, I watched with my mum, dad, and 10 year old sister. They didn't mind it. Really funny, but not for kids. (Apart from me)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bybradley4846 October 23, 2010

Very Good Movie

I had been wanting to see this for a long time now, and i was not dissapointed. It was funny and very well done. There is some breasts and a penis (quickly) and some other talk. the language is ussually the fword. and they do cocaine twice (them doing it is not shown onscreen)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old February 16, 2011

Very Funny...

Very funny simon pegg comedy, but different type of movie to the other types of movies he does though, which probably grew the content. Very funny though but a scene of nudity when you can see breasts for a couple of seconds. And in the same scene you can see "fake balls" on a woman's 'V'. Other than that it wasn't that bad in sex or sexual comedy, other than when you see 'a little shot' of a woman's behind, (dont see much), it is implied that she also has a penis. The language is alike simon pegg's other movies but it feels worse though. The drug's isn't really a problem, other than simon pegg who tries to get a drug for a woman, hoping she'll "go crazy". Remember this is a rom-com, so some romantic behaviour other than what I've mentioned. (but not "bad bad").
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing