How To Lose Friends And Alienate People * *

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Director: Robert B. Weide.
Screenplay: Peter Straughan.
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Megan Fox, Gillian Anderson, Danny Huston, Thandie Newton, James Corden, Chris O’Dowd, Max Minghella, Miriam Margoyles, Toni Collette, Kate Winslet, Daniel Craig.

Now that Simon Pegg has broken into the American market, he is getting offered more meatier roles. This was his first stab at a leading comedic part amongst an impressive star studded cast but despite the weight behind this one, it never quite gets off the ground.

Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) is a down-on-his-luck British journalist offered the chance of a lifetime at glossy US magazine ‘Sharps’. However, his plans to conquer New York hit speedbumps in the shape of a glamorous starlet (Megan Fox), her ruthless publicist (Gillian Anderson) and his increasingly irate co-workers (Kirsten Dunst, Danny Huston & Jeff Bridges).

This lightweight comedy has it’s moments; Pegg is as endearing and buffoonish as ever and the rest of the cast also deliver fine performances – particularly Bridges who chews up his role – but unfortunately, the very talented lineup are wasted in a poorly written and sometimes desperate execution. The culture-clash scenario of a lone Brit tackling America, supplies enough gags for a while, but it soon grows tiresome and relies too heavily on this premise to get by. Other than this, we are offered a few slapstick Farrelly brothers moments which are, at best, mildly amusing. It is actually based on the real life experiences of Toby Young who wrote his book as a scathing attack on the vanity and shallowness of celebrity culture and if the film had stuck to a satirical approach, it might have worked. Instead, we get a predictably uninteresting, formulaic effort that wastes a very talented cast.

Promises so much yet delivers so little. Only Jeff Bridges manages to make something of his role and come out relatively unscathed, but then… he is Jeff Bridges after all.

Mark Walker

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