How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Movie Poster Image
Snarky comedy about celeb culture lacks bite.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

What 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).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 year old Written byblueman5555 December 10, 2009

Not for kids.

The sexual content in this film is shocking. There is full frontal nudity of a transexual stripper both breasts and penis that lasts for over a minute. It is... Continue reading
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...
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... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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