Americans hated this movie. Europeans got it a little bit more. Will you fall in love with this unloved movie and it’s unlikable characters? Will you get the movie that ironically lost a lot of friends and alienated people?

I did.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Poster

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Poster

 

What is this film?

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” (2008) is based on a book by the same name, written by Toby Young.

The book is rooted in Toby’s own experiences working in the US, and his reputation is somewhat ugly, even worse than how Simon Pegg portrays Sydney Young in the film.

Toby Young actually did send a strip-o-gram to the office on Bring-Your-Daughter-To-Work-Day when he worked at Vanity Fair magazine, and managed to get shunned by most people in publishing by the end of his employment.

The director, Robert B. Weide, is known for “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and if you have watched “Curb Your Enthusiasm” you know that this guy should know a thing or two about making an unlikable character relatable and identifiable.

Producers really pulled out the big guns for this one.

 

Who says it is bad?

Americans say it’s bad. Why do I say that? Just check out the box office return on the movie:

Domestic:  $2,778,752    14.5%
+ Foreign:  $16,373,045    85.5%

Worldwide:  $19,151,797  

The production budget was around $28 million, so even though Europeans kind of got the movie, it didn’t even recuperate its losses.

I’m not judging. Most movies never do.

(I know the rest of the world is in there too, but I am presuming that the movie didn’t go much further than a British release and some selected Brit-loving countries (like Norway) due to it’s lack of hold in the US).

It is blatantly obvious to my eyes that Americans simply didn’t get Sydney Young and his predicament. Why, he is an unprofessional, ill-dressed smart arse who constantly eats fatty foods with his mouth open (not even kidding, he does this a lot).

Why in heavens name should they actually like him?

 

Why I say it’s good

The difference between me and the Americans (I love generalising this broadly) is that I actually identified with Sydney Young through all his horrible character flaws listed above. And the fact that I could identify with such a person is why I say it’s damn good.

The likability of Sydney Young’s character is that he offers some sort of integrity. He is not prepared to grovel and snivel at the feet of the shiny celebrities and their hard-ass agents. Don’t get me wrong, he adores actors and says he wants to be a part of their world. Only everything he does gets him further and further away from it.

He is, however, a dying breed, the investigative journalist who doesn’t “take orders from Flaks”.

The scene that wins Sydney Young as a character for me, is when he recognises an old actress at a party where everyone else is ignoring her or simply doesn’t know who she is. This scene confirms to me that Sydney Young is by heart a film lover and connoisseur. Obviously I can relate to that 😉

 

Other good thing apart from Simon Pegg

Another good thing about the movie is that although it gives you a sneak peek into the glamour of celebrity life, it doesn’t make you want to join them, as so many other films do.

The break of that illusion is perhaps something the Americans can’t handle. I for one embrace it.

The humour is decidedly british, a humour which he is constantly criticised for in the film by the lofty and snooty Americans, but which I find funny. I’ve lived in London for three years. I get sarky and ironic humour.

I guess it isn’t hard to understand why the US didn’t warm up to a film where you are supposed to sympathise with the snarky Brit, and the only American who turns out to be decent, is a rather cold and bitchy Kirsten Dunst.

 

Kirsten Dunst – the love interest

Although Kirsten Dunst plays the love-interest Alison with a razor sharp bitchiness, she does have several “Save-The-Cat” moments where she throws Sydney a bone. Underneath the icy cold surface lies a snarky, ironic bitch. And she slowly cracks her way out.

The best moment with Alison is when she goes all fucking mental (relatively speaking) and tells off two stick-thin women in a truly sarky British fashion. This is the perfect moment for Sydney to understand that Alison likes him, the moment when she acts like him.

She does obviously spill it literally right afterwards when she defends Sydney Young outright, but then again subtlety has never been the strong suit of the run of the mill romantic comedy. And especially not this movie.

 

Megan Fox actually has comedic value

Credits go to Megan Fox, who is usually stuffed into some skinny jeans and told to stare with a slightly open mouth to the left of the camera. She does the same in this movie, but with a perfect overstatement that illuminates her intelligence as an actress.

In the part as up-and-coming actress Sophie Maes, Sydney Young’s sex interest for a large part of the film, Megan Fox is literally making fun of her own role in society as the pretty-girl actress who gets far by being beautiful and playing stupid.

Fun fact: She wasn’t even a star yet when this was shot. It was shot before “Transformers”. Which makes the comment on celebrity even more hilarious.

Her role in this film proves to me that there is more to Megan Fox than tits and ass, and I for one would quite like to see if she has any more comedic bones in her.

 

What mood should you be in?

It’s an easy, no fuzz comedy. Perfect for those days when your brain is tired and you just want to think about something else apart from work or life in general. It will divert and entertain you sufficiently without changing your life.

Don’t watch it if you hate Simon Pegg. He doesn’t play the most lovable character in this film, as you might have guessed by now, so you will have to watch something else and fall in love with him first.

 

Further Watching

Anything with Simon Pegg. I would especially recommend his work together with Nick Frost. These are usually british spoof comedies that really hit the mark on commenting and making fun of genre conventions and tropes.

This includes, but is not exclusive to:

They are all hilarious! Watch’em!

If you want a classical reference, have a go at “The Apartment” (1960). The love story between Alison and Sydney, not present in the book, is based on the storyline from this film. This is one of the black-and-white movies I can truly recommend.

Set-up: A guy rents out his apartment to his adulterous bosses to get ahead in his job. But what happens when he falls in love and needs the apartment himself?

 

Now tell me, what is your favourite Guilty Pleasure movie?

 

Next week we will unearth another gem in the Netflix catalogue. Don’t miss out! Sign up!

 

Megan Fox kind of making fun of her own status as a sexy actress

Megan Fox kind of making fun of her own status as a sexy actress.

 

Who am I?

I a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. Sometimes I will even like “the bad movies”, the ones the critiques scoff at and the snooty film students will refuse to watch because it’s all so commercial. Those are some of the best movies. They are guilty pleasures, and they will save you on a rainy day when you just don’t want to think.

In these Guilty Pleasure blog posts, I will explore the movies I find myself turning back to again and again for comfort.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

I found this one easily on Netflix.

Don’t feel like giving them your money since they raised the monthly cost? You know what to do 😉

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

Next week, we will again take a dip into the vast array of movies on Netflix and unearth another “Best movie on Netflix“.

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