Running Time: 110 minutes
Rated: Rated M (coarse language, nudity, drug and sexual references)
This satirical film has been adapted (or based on without reproducing the plot and themes exactly) from a book by Toby Young about his journalistic ambitions in London and his opportunity to fulfil them in New York. Actually, his ambitions are far less exalted. He wanted it all: the easy good time, the wealth, the glamour and the glitter, being seen with celebrities in the public eye and writing, mainly gossip (and invention) in a glossy magazine. He does all this, of course, but at what price? And, can it last? In real life, with bluff and no shame, it probably could, but this kind of film is one of those morality stories where you have your cake, eat it and then move to a higher plain where such cake can be looked down on.
A lot of the film is bright and breezy and there some very funny bits.
However, we are taken into the world of gossip columnists and paparazzi where the pinnacle of achievement is to have written a cover story of about 2000 words that remains in the public eye until the next issue is published. This is the ephemeral achievement of having done that and, therefore, been there, with the strong possibility that that is it.
Simon Pegg is quite convincing as Sidney Young, the well-educated (but that does not matter) son of a prominent philosopher (but that is far too serious) who behaves like a magazine world Austin Powers (manic, say whatever comes into your head - his analysis of the art of Con Air is worth hearing - dance as vigorously as you can and presume that you are absolutely right about everything and there is no need to worry about tomorrow). We see him trying to gatecrash parties, talk to Thandie Newton herself as if he were a top producer, spy on the well-known and then, almost inexplicably, be invited to New York to work on the magazine of his dreams by its editor, Jeff Bridges, doing his executive variation of Lebowski.
Danny Huston is very effective and all too credible as his smarmy boss. Gillian Anderson is also good as a dominating, no holds-barred-if-it-promotes-my-client agent. Megan Fox is the star she manages who is up to doing anything required for publicity. (She is up for an award in a highly-fictionalised (!) film of Mother Teresa's vocation, The Making of a Saint which we see glimpses and posters of and, if we stay for the final credits, see the complete hilariously irreverent trailer!)
But, it is Kirsten Dunst as Sidney's co-worker who brings an element of reality into his life even though she herself has her own problems. She is quietly charming and reminds us of how pleasing an actress she can be.
If you want to risk spending time in this phony world and its worldliness, there is enough humour and good performances to see you through. But, as the Danny Huston character reminds us, not everybody sees the light to do the good and right thing.
ParamountOut October 23
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.