Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Olive Films // R // November 24, 2015
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted December 15, 2015 | E-mail the Author
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is a toothless satire raised from plain-jane mediocrity to legitimately pleasant all-rightness entirely by the performances of Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst. Released in a year where Tropic Thunder, JCVD, My Name is Bruce and more piled themselves on an already-tired stack of films about the industry poking fun at itself, director Robert Weide's adaptation of Toby Young's book is a hit-and-miss attempt at star-skewering that fails to dig deep enough to draw blood, despite ample opportunity. However, the same material that's soft on Hollywood has relative R-rated bite in a romantic comedy, and in the end, I walked away with a smile thanks to the stars' effortless chemistry.

Pegg plays Sidney Young (an interpretation of Toby), the creator of the supposedly scathing British tabloid the Post-Modern Review. One of his former idols is Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges, sporting an incredible wig), who has gone on to be the editor-in-chief of Sharps Magazine in New York City, where Sidney feels the man lost his bite. After Sidney ruins one of Clayton's fancy parties by crashing it with a pig in tow, Clayton gives Sidney a call and offers him a job at Sharps. Seeing an opportunity to bring some cutting criticism back into Clayton's work, Sidney accepts, flying to the States to start cracking heads. Instead, however, he finds himself under the watchful eye of co-worker Alison Olson (Dunst), whose current assignment seems to be keeping Sidney in check.

Weide seems afraid to be truly caustic, despite it literally being Sidney's goal to do so. It's clear that he and screenwriter Peter Straughan are worried that giving Sidney the teeth to tear into someone could also make him an unlikable jackass, but if there's anyone in the world who could have balanced the anarchic with the amicable, it's Simon Pegg. Instead, Sidney bluntly nags an actor about their sexual orientation, and the joke falls flat beacuse not only is the line of questioning more unwise than outrageous, we've got no bearing on the "actor" in question. A real-life star might have packed a stronger punch. Similarly, while Max Minghella's pretentious, ego-trip director has considerably more screentime, the film never aims below-the-belt. The character is merely dazed and distant, when it's a perfect chance to stick it to both abstract auteurs and David-O.-Russell-style directorial explosions.

The remaining plot tracks the love-hate Alison and Sidney's love hate-relationship, which reeks of a Hollywood book-to-film adaptation. Could these two actually have something in common? Boy, I wonder! And yet, there's Pegg and Dunst, generating crackling romantic and comedic chemistry, both exceptionally charismatic and appealing from the first frame to the last. Both actors are reliably charming, and their work falls wthin their usual wheelhouse, but they have a chemistry that makes both crackle -- when they trade barbs, it feels like two people honestly ribbing each other. The supporting cast doesn't fare as well. Megan Fox plays the boring Sophie Maes, a movie star who is probably not interested in Sidney, no matter how much he prays. Her fake Mother Teresa biopic is chuckle-worthy, but it feels like an easy gag. Bridges and the wig both seem convinced the other would do all the work, and the script repeatedly fails the appealingly smarmy Danny Huston and a seemingly-game Gillian Anderson, as a professional/love rival of Sidney's and Sophie Maes' agent, respectively.

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is the kind of movie you'd enjoy on television and forget by the end of the week, the cinematic equivalent of a catchy, radio-ready single by a solid band. It certainly could have been better (probably with the same cast and crew) but its two leads are so charming and likable that they will it into being a minor winner. In some ways, a movie titled How to Lose Friends & Alienate People succeeding on charm ought to be a strike against it, but in this case, I'll let it slide.

The Blu-ray
The slick, simple design style of a modern magazine has been used for the cover of How to Lose Friends, which boxes the poster art inside red and white columns. It's a bit more stylish than the DVD artwork, which made the film look more like a traditional romantic comedy. It is, but I still prefer the classy take. The single-disc release comes in a boxy Infiniti Blu-ray case, and there is a postcard insert advertising other Olive Films releases.

The Video and Audio
Olive has given How to Lose Friends the HD upgrade, and this 1.85:1 1080p AVC presentation looks very good. Although I remember the movie being more colorful (likely because of the energy given off by Pegg and Dunst), the movie has a surprisingly subdued look, often going for a colder palette. Many scenes are shot a bit wider than one would generally expect, with less tight close-ups, and as such, the film has less fine detail on display than others. Still, there is a crispness and clarity here that seems in keeping with a recent-ish film, and the colors, while not as vivid as I expected, appear accurate. Sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, which is very much the mix I remember from DVD, just with more depth and clarity to it. Sidney spends most of his time at crowded parties, bars, and the busy office, which give plenty of surround activity for the background. Music is also nicely rendered, and dialogue is clear. Unlike the DVD, however, no alternate languages or subtitle tracks have been included.

The Extras
The US DVD of How to Lose Friends and Alienate Poeple lacked some of the extras from the UK DVD. Olive, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to go ahead and just trash the entire lineup, leaving behind only an original theatrical trailer.

When I reviewed the DVD years ago, I said that Blu-ray owners might have to wait for a release on that format for the rest of the extras. Years later, and How to Lose Friends has arrived with a decent presentation, but none of the bonus features. Although I still like the movie, and there's nothing wrong with what is included on the disc, it's really hard to argue that fans should upgrade given the movie is merely an enjoyable little rom-com, and this disc drops so much of what they already have. In the end, I can only call this one a rental.

Please check out my other DVDTalk DVD, Blu-ray and theatrical reviews and/or follow me on Twitter.
Buy from






Rent It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links