18 November 2008 | bob the moo
Should have been better but is still a reasonable enough comedy
Sidney Young runs a small alternative culture magazine in London dedicated to popping the bubble of celebrity. He hits the big time when he gets a call from Clayton Harding, the editor of Sharps magazine a glossy celebrity magazine based in New York City. Sidney goes into the job thinking he can be different from the puff pieces the magazine is famous for and somehow has been employed as part of Harding's darker streak and longer for more. Sadly this instinct is dead wrong and Sidney finds himself a joke within the office and a failure within the world of celebrity and movie stars that he needs to work.
HTLF&AP (it's easier) is in the mould of The Devil Wears Prada as it is written as an insider's exposé of celebrity culture from someone who discovered it firsthand. Like that film, this one also struggles to tell this tale within a narrative structure that engages. It is helped though by having the central character be a major part of his own discovery, ie not only do we see the world of superficiality that is the celebrity scene but Sidney is more than a pair of eyes as he fails so impressively to assimilate himself into it. The problem is though that it is not savage enough on the celebrity culture and instead tries to draw a lot more humour from Sidney's various pratfalls and failures. This produces some moments of amusement but at the same time it robs the material of the teeth it really should have had. What is left is a reasonably funny comedy that goes where you expect it to, right down to the pat ending that was always going to be there.
Pegg has enough about his performance to be funny even though this is far below the films he has made with Wright. He makes it work better than it should at times but then he cannot bring out an edge that isn't there in the script. The starry supporting cast may be part of the reason that it doesn't tear at the hand that feeds it and indeed there are some solid turns here. Bridges, Anderson, Fox, Huston and others all do reasonably good work around Pegg. Dunst is at her best when in the "hate" part of her "love/hate" relationship with Pegg and I liked her until the film gradually started to use her character to turn the way we all knew it would go.
Not a brilliant film by any means then but still one that is amusing as it treads familiar paths to a weak ending. Should have been better but is still just about good enough to distract as a comedy.