How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

29 Sep 2008

We caught another premiere at the Film Festival on Friday. Well, I say “premiere”, but the stars and red carpet all seemed to be in London a day before. And I say “caught”, but due to a slight mix-up with the time, we arrived half an hour in. On the plus side, they had author Toby Young and producer Stephen Woolley for a Q&A afterwards, and we got to find out that cinemas still have people with torches to show you to your seat.

I have to confess that the trailers didn’t fill me with confidence. However, with a reasonable cast, headed by the excellent Simon Pegg, we decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised; it’s by no means a classic, but definitely worth the price of admission. The main issue won’t be a surprise anyone who’s familiar with the book - the main character isn’t exactly what you’d call sympathetic. In fact, and it’s a little difficult to figure how to bring this up in a Q&A with the real-world counterpart sitting right there, he’s pretty much a grotesque. They’ve softened him up to allow the narrative to work as a romantic comedy, but as a result, he seems to veer wildly from loveable loser to contemptible creep. Pegg, and to a lesser extent his co-star Kirsten Dunst, save this from disaster with likeable performances, but it still sits slightly uncomfortably at times.

Than again, perhaps I’m being harsh. Maybe the first thirty minutes is pure gold.

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