Remember how shocking (not) it was when The Devil Wears Prada taught us how insane the workplace is at a high-gloss fashion magazine very much like Vogue? Here’s a chance to learn the same shocking (not) lesson about a high-gloss celebrity magazine very much like Vanity Fair. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, based on Toby Young?s opportunistic 2001 memoir of the same name, chronicles the short-but-sour New York career of the British journalist, who arrived for a stint at Vanity Fair at the invitation of its flamboyantly coiffed editor, Graydon Carter. Young writes that he pissed off the staff, botched his assignments, and went home, disillusioned with both New York publishing and Hollywood star-gazing.
Ah, but the movie spins a less obnoxious version of the fish-out-of-Evian hero, now called Sidney Young, at a magazine called Sharps. As played with pleasant self-deprecation by Hot Fuzz’s Simon Pegg, this innocent among culture vultures is more of a rambunctious mutt than a British bulldog. Jeff Bridges channels the Graydon Carterish role mostly through his long-haired wig. Best in show is the divine Gillian Anderson as a powerful celebrity publicist, editing the image of her clients in much the same way this adaptation tames Young’s much pricklier book. C+