A hilarious take on journalism

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A hilarious take on journalism

Based on English journalist Toby Young’s memoir about working at Vanity Fair magazine, the slapstick comedy “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” wittily satirizes celebrity journalism.

In spite of its cliched subject, the film actually has three major pluses: Simon Pegg’s splendid performance as protagonist Sidney Young, a believable story line and a script full of belly laughs.

Sidney Young, a soon-to-be-ruined alternative magazine editor from England, gatecrashes an exclusive party thrown by Sharps magazine, carrying a famous pig and disguised as a waiter.

But he is caught in a headlock by Clint Eastwood (in a cameo role), and the story is front page news the next day.

This turn of events gives him an opportunity to work as a reporter in New York. Sharps’ editor, Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges), is impressed by Young’s determination to get into his party. It is said that Clayton Harding is based on Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

However, from the word go, Young runs into problems: he does not have a New York sense of fashion or humor. He can’t find any stories to write.

He’s always the center of attention, but not in a good way (although funny). With no one wanting to befriend him, colleague Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst), who is secretly having an affair with a married editor, Lawrence Maddox (Danny Huston), hangs out with him.

At the same time, Young develops a huge crush on Hollywood starlet Sophie (Megan Fox). He is determined to be successful so that he can sleep with her.

However, as long as he wants to climb the ladder at Sharps, he has to write nice things about celebrities, which is exactly the opposite of what he used to do in England.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People presents an unfiltered look at New York celebrity journalism. The movie asks how journalists can write objectively about celebrities when they come into close contact with them.

I really loved the philosophy behind the movie. Even though issues are hard to find, being hidden behind Pegg’s superb one-man show, I just loved the delivery.

By dealing with a subject like journalistic independence, this could have been a ponderous movie, but it wasn’t.

At first glance, the title and story seem mismatched, as Sidney Young doesn’t actually have many people to lose or alienate. However, perhaps the point is that what we do now for success can alienate people without us ever realizing. Perhaps the title is deliberately irrelevant to the story just to make us look at our own lives.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Comedy, Romance / English

Starring: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst

By Choi Jung-in Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

Editor Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) has high hopes for new writer Sidney Young (Simon Pegg). [MovieWeb]
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