Friday, 12 September 2008

How to Lose Friends and Make a Movie

I just saw a sneak preview of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, adapted from the book by Toby Young.

Studio and PR protocols prevent me from posting a review quite this early, but let’s just say that the film is going to get mixed reviews, mostly on the skeptical side. And since some of the most powerful film critics and journalists in the UK are friends of Toby Young, this might get interesting.

The book was brilliant; it was the story of a maverick British journalist in flight both from his famous father and his mightily upscale education. Young struck an almost grotesquely self-deprecating tone as we followed his misguided attempts at seducing the New York glitterati with his drunken, boorish antics. Hired by Vanity Fair as a kind of mad whim by its editor Graydon Carter, Young has subsequently built an entire career out of his spectacular failure to play the Manhattan game.

Three decades ago John Cleese made a fortune on the simple comedy stereotype of the uptight Brit and the expansive, liberated American. Now Toby Young has inverted that formula. Cosmopolitan America, we are told, is now obsessed with appropriate behavior, form, snobbery and etiquette. Now it’s the Brits who don’t know how to behave.

Things that have been lost in translation? Sophie Dahl sharing a flat with Young in NYC (an incident worthy of a whole film on its own). And who he actually gave his signet ring to - one of the main plot devices in the movie.

I can't see admirers of the book or the play finding much to like about the movie, but it may find a whole new audience.

You can find the trailer here

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