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Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - How To Lose Friends And Alienate People

I know people, I have been slacking up on the reviews, and I do apologise. It doesn't mean I haven't been watching films, its just that my persistent laziness is one of my numerous ailments that decides to perk up when least necessary. Anyway, nonsense out of the way, here comes the review to the new Simon Pegg comedy, How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, based on the book by Toby Young. The name Toby Young explains it all, but we will get to that later. Okay, here goes, Simon Pegg play Sidney Young, an absolute fool of a man without the slightest idea of human decency or manners, and the film follows him in his attempts to make himself famous. For starters, Simon Pegg plays Sidney Young brilliantly, giving him a likeability that most actors would not be able to achieve in such an unforgiving character. Also, with regards to the acting side, Danny Huston, Gillian Anderson and Megan Fox play their roles with gusto, but there is one man who steals the show, as he does in just about every role he plays. Jeff Bridges is on par with the comedic veteran Pegg as Clayton Harding. His portrayal of the unforgiving, no holds barred editor of Sharps, literally commands attention every time he is onscreen, and makes it believable in his reducing of Pegg's character into a tame puppy dog. He reminds you why he is one of the best working actors in Hollywood and why he shares credit to half of my namesake. Kirsten Dunst, however, is the one that suffers in her role. With many of the other characters being funny for their own reasons and standing out in their own right, she is merely bogged down to the role of moaning and acting depressed. Not only is her role poorly written and stereotypical, Dunst does not even seem to make the most out of it, and is very bland in her delivery of the character. That is not to say that the script is terrible. The script certainly contains many laughs, including some funny gags involving a pig and a transsexual. Also, the central romance itself is past the point of being stereotypically kitsch, and does have its charm. However, it has the same problem with many films in that it is not able to make up its mind where it is going. For example, I mentioned How To Lose Friends And Alienate People by "Toby Young" and then Simon Pegg as "Sidney Young." This is not a typo. The book for example, is supposed to be a far darker portrayal of the Hollywood limelight. This adaptation attempts to lighten the mood of the book, while retaining the satirical elements involved in the original text. Now, as far as light, warm-hearted comedy goes, it is certainly a good movie to go and see if you want to enjoy a good night out. However, the film fails because of in its attempts to use two different elements, they fail to balance them out equally. For example, much of the satire is pushed to the sidewalk and made less obvious, whereas in the book, it is apparently just there and in your face. Robert Weide, the director, of whom this was his debut feature, perhaps at inexperience from changing over from the television format to feature film, struggled to deal with a script which did not have its priorities right. Weide clearly suffered from a lack of experience in the format and thus failed to recognise some of the weaknesses of the script. From what you have just read here, you probably think that I didn't like the movie. Far from it, I even think that it warrants a second viewing, if only for the comedy. There is some top acting here, with the prime exception of Kirsten Dunst being bland in a blatantly stereotypical role of "I'm your only friend" syndrome. Also, despite some genuinely funny scenes, the script fails to deliver the balance of satire and slapstick, and the ending is more or less predictable from fifteen minutes in, and suffers from a bad case of misdirection. Despite these problems, which will probably only affect you if you are a grumpy film reviewer, I think there is much to be enjoyed in this film.

The Thin White Dude’s Prognosis – 6.9/10

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