DVD Review: ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People’ Deserves to Lose Viewers Too

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HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 1.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Considering the talent on display, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is jaw-droppingly, shockingly bad. If this was just another straight-to-video National Lampoon comedy, it might be easier to forgive, but how so many funny people got involved in a project so misguided will remain one of the biggest movie mysteries of 2008.

Based on the autobiographical memoir of Toby Young, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is about the way an egotistical, slobbish writer works his way through the celebrity scene in New York by whatever means possible.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People was released by MGM on February 17th, 2009.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People was released by MGM on February 17th, 2009.
Photo credit: Fox.

Renamed Sidney Young, the great Simon Pegg plays a bumbling hero who was clearly never well-defined by the writer, director, or star. Is Sidney a jerk? If so, casting one of the most likable actors alive was probably not a good idea. Is he an idiot? Pegg doesn’t play that well either. He’s just a black hole in the center of the movie. It’s Pegg’s least memorable performance to date.

Sidney is a celebrity journalist in England who is surprisingly called and hired by one of the most upscale magazines in NYC, headed by Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges). Sidney becomes enemies, friends, and then love interest in the most predictable way possible with fellow writer Alison Olsen (a miscast Kirsten Dunst) as he deals with a vicious publicist (a miscast Gillian Anderson), a sleazy boss (a miscast Danny Huston), and a rising starlet (okay, this one was well-cast - Megan Fox).

Will the starlet become a celebrity? Will Sidney become a hot new writer on the scene? Will he impress his irascible boss? Will Alison fall in love with him? Did they stop to figure out how to make us care about any of these questions and did anyone do any research into making the world of celebrity journalism in New York feel remotely genuine?

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is one of the most inert, lifeless, and dull movies of 2008, a film without one real laugh and a project that is constantly telegraphing its sense of self-importance. You know that guy at the party who tells a stupid joke that he cackles at but no one else laughs? “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is the movie equivalent of that jerk.

The film could have possibly been redeemed at least slightly by a decent home release but MGM chose another plan. Simon Pegg has already made his feelings about the US release clear, urging people not to buy “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” until a better edition comes out. I would suggest not renting it either.

Not released on Blu-Ray, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is available on DVD with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and an English 5.1 Dolby Surround sound track. Reportedly, other regions get deleted scenes and multiple commentary tracks, but the US version includes only one commentary with Weide and Pegg and a brief featurette called “Sharp Interviews”. Lucky them.

‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People’ is released by MGM Home Video and stars Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Huston, Jeff Bridges, Gillian Anderson, and Megan Fox. It was written by Peter Straughan and directed by Robert Weide. It was released on February 17th, 2009. It is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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