Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: A Review

It's been a rather busy Saturday (yesterday already!)

Between shopping and feeding the cat and fending off my Russian teacher with lies, I managed to clock five movies today!! I didn't realise that until late night and when I counted the actual number I was really surprised of the count! I might be just a pathetic little sewer rat with no friends in town, but that's no excuse for this kind of behaviour! Well, I do have a friend or two around, and a few more still left back in India, but the only words I spoke today were to my mom who called me when I was in the movie theatre. Ain't that glorious!!

Anyway, here's a list of the movies I saw today:
1. Chitram Bhala Re Vichitram (a Telugu vulgar comedy movie of the early nineties)
2. Role Models (Release: Nov 2008, Starring: Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott)
3. Soul Men (Release Nov 2008, Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Bernie Mac)
4. Jab We Met (at the Indian Film Festival venue)
5. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Now, the last one was really the culmination of a day I spent as a social outcast. The movie was about a self-righteous Englishman who gets an offer to go to New York and work for a glitzy celebrity news magazine. The movie, adapted from the memoir of Toby Young by the same name, is an interesting take on the celebrity news world, the one with headquarters in hell. It's almost like 'Page 3' of Madhur Bhandarkar, only it isn't. It is a simple story of a loser - Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) who comes to town with his principles and an enlarged self-image, only to bite the dust and be played around by people in power.

The movie has enough doses of slapstick, and yet the best laughs come from the dry British wit of Sidney. Allison (Kirsten Dunst) plays a fellow journalist at the magazine and is the only friend of Sidney in a hostile office environment. Sidney is hopelessly enchanted by a sensuous, upcoming actress Sophie Maes (Megan Fox) and tries all his tricks in the bag to get to her. Midway, he peeks into Allison's own cracked up life and gropes his way down a dark alley only to find himself at the bottom of the pit.

He turns around with vengeance, trading his beliefs with power and glamour only to dump them all in the end for a tiny ray of love he is offered.

The plot could have been made into an intense drama of ambition taking over character, but the movie is made into a comedic genius instead. Simon Pegg excels in his character as a misfit with a strong self-image. Kirsten Dunst's got to be the cutest actress around in Hollywood, who can turn out believable performances, if not path-breaking ones. I mean, she was just an ordinary looking kid in Jumanji and even now she's not the best on looks. But there is something about her eyes, may be smile or just that wiggly nose. Something! I donno!

Anyway, the movie ends with Sydney losing all the friends and alienating everyone who's company he gained for a short period of time by compromising a few things. There is no indication that he'd come back to his principles except when he says 'Lot of baggage' to a stewardess in an Airport who asks him if he has any, while he stands there empty-handed. In any case, it isn't one of those movies where the deep-bass voice-over would say 'One Man Will Reclaim Himself From The Depths...' in the trailers, so you wouldn't really give much sh*t to the redemption part of the drama. It is just a comedy movie that deserves its round of applause just for that!

Funny, the movie almost seems to give a message to the hypocritical, sycophantic ways of the glamour world and stops short of doing exactly that. May be the director Bob Weide didn't want to preach like Madhur Bhandarkar, though he makes his point on sycophancy, moral bankruptcy, secret affairs, drugs, alcohol and all that with just about the same effectiveness as Page 3! Yet, the movie is so different and so much better!

My Rating: 4 / 5

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