British tabloid journalist Toby Young’s crash and burn at Vanity Fair is the stuff of media legend, in large part because Young shrewdly promoted the legend himself. His story gets the soft-soap treatment in this tepid comedy, which wants to send up celebrity journalism with the same glee that The Devil Wears Prada used to go after fashion mags. But How to Lose is light on satire and heavy on exactly the kind of Hollywood gloss that Young mocked as a journalist, even as he lived off it.
Hired at Sharps magazine by lion-maned Clayton Harding (Bridges, doing an amusing riff on Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter), British gutter journo Sidney (Pegg) finds that the fix is in with American celebrity journalism, as powerful publicists and magazine editors cut deals that would make senators and oil companies blush. While chasing an interview with the latest It girl (Fox), Simon flirts combatively with a colleague (Dunst, looking uneasy doing comedy). Robert B. Weide delivers some mild laughs, but How to Lose is toothless, substituting broad humor and a romance for the needed cynicism. It’s as if the film was afraid of, you know, losing friends and alienating people.
Cast and crew