- Released Internationally on 03/10/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 08/10/08
In a nutshell
Based on the true-life account of a British journalist trying to make it in New York when he’s offered a job by a high-profile celebrity magazine, this film follows him as he strives to stick to his journalist ethics without ticking off all the stars and colleagues he meets.
The name might not ring any bells, but this guy has ‘rising star’ written all over him. He burst into public consciousness back in 2004 when he co-wrote and starred in the truly brilliant ‘Shaun of the Dead’ comedy, which he recently followed up successfully with ‘Hot Fuzz’ (also great) and ‘Run, Fat boy, Run’. This is probably his highest-profile assignment to date, and his face will soon be plastered everywhere when he plays Scotty in the upcoming Star Trek revamp. He benefits from average-Joe looks, which allow him to take on roles which the audience can easily relate to, and he does physical and verbal comedy wonderfully – all traits that are put to very good use here. When we first meet him, his character Sidney Young is running a tiny and frustrating magazine back in the UK, but he soon gets noticed and is flown out to New York to work for the very sort of corporation he used to ridicule. Needless to say, he takes some time to fit in.
Another new name. Another rapidly rising star. This stunning young actress gave the Transformers a run for their money in terms of eye-candy, and here she slips very easily into the role of a fictional starlet who’s just hit the big-time and is suddenly grabbing all the limelight with a big movie role and some crafty paparazzi stunts. She proves to be the one thing that can tear Sidney down from his ethical high-horse, and get him to accept that he needs to rub a few celebrity backs if his career is going to head anywhere. Throughout the film, he slowly but surely gets drawn into the celebrity game, but as he gains favour with the A-list crowd, he loses favour with those closest to him, and with us in the cinema seats.
Providing most of the emotional backbone to the story, the reliable and likeable Kirsten Dunst plays Alison Olsen, who is one of the first people Sidney clashes with on arriving in New York, but who eventually shows that deep down she resents the celebrity culture and is made of stronger stuff. She plays second fiddle to Megan Fox in the glamour and glitz departments, but Sidney eventually realises the importance of friendship over fluff.
The Dude himself, the versatile and criminally underrated Jeff Bridges, recovers from his clash with Iron Man earlier this year to play Clayton Harding, the powerful and influential editor of the fictional ‘Sharps’ magazine (the memoir had Sidney working for Vanity Fair, but all names have been fictionalised here). Despite having risen to the top thanks to a symbiotic relationship with the stars, Harding still harbours a bit of nostalgia for the times when he used to tear the celebrities down, which is why he hired Sidney, and why on occasion he gives him free rein to try new ideas for the magazine. This provides most of the food for thought this film serves up – in this age of celebrity blogs and endless paparazzi stories, and where stardom can be obtained thanks to a few well-planned stunts, without any particular need for talent, we’re given some insight into the power of the media, and how they often decide the fates of those they cover. Amongst the many comedy gems throughout the film, we get a couple of references to Bridges’ cult role in The Big Lebowski, with Sidney mistaking the name of his landlady, and one of Harding’s executives having White Russians as his drink of choice.
In the end
Much like The Devil Wears Prada, this film offers us humble mortals an amusing glimpse into the offices of high-flying magazine headquarters, and manages to make us doubt what we read off the news rack. And much like Tropic Thunder, it manages to remove some of the shine that the media has encased Hollywood celebrities with over the years. A good mix of British humour and Hollywood glamour, with Simon Pegg delivering another good performance as he saves us from the inflated egos of stardom.