Published Oct 03, 2008As celebrated as British comedy is on TV in the U.S., it appears that actually cracking the mainstream market is not so easy, especially on the big screen. The dry humour, its been said, struggles to connect with the average American viewer.
Ricky Gervais is a classic example, after recently striking out in his first starring vehicle, Ghost Town. Simon Pegg is all too familiar with striking out. Despite adoration and celebrity at home in the UK thanks to hits like Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, hes just a cult figure in America.
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People is his first crack at a lead role on American soil, playing a version of the books author, Toby Young, who wrote a tell-all about his time at Vanity Fair. Pegg is Sidney Young, a disgruntled entertainment writer who goes above and beyond to get the scoop on celebrity gossip. Recognized for his trash,y self-published, London-based rag, influential editor-in-chief Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges) relocates Sidney to New York to work for the esteemed Sharps magazine.
Viewing it as his big break, Sidney dives in deep, attempting to shake up the conservative practice but always comes up looking the fool, be it drooling over hot new actress Sophie Maes (Megan Fox), trying to one-up his superior (Danny Huston) or simply struggling to maintain his integrity.
With guidance from co-worker Alison (Kirsten Dunst), he eventually learns that in order to make it he must play the arse-kissing PR game, and soon he finds himself sacrificing that integrity for a taste of success.
Instead of delivering an accurate adaptation, Weide turns Youngs biting memoir into a crass rom-com that runs through the motions of its character failing, succeeding, recognizing true love and then giving it all up for that true love. Pegg is a loveable loser but here hes a fish out of water, portraying an asinine and vulgar fool with intellect, unable to convince the viewer to give him empathy.
On top of all the little mindless gags, How Tos "eye-opening commentary on the publishing industry pales in comparison to The Devil Wears Pradas cutthroat exposé on the fashion world. Unfortunately, all Pegg learns from his first Hollywood lead is how to lose credibility and alienate fans. (MGM)