March 21, 2009
Review - " I Love You, Man " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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I Love You, Man
Starring Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, JK Simmons and
Directed by John Hamburg
The problem with the bromantic comedy genre - movies about
relationships between straight men - is usually the women. Although
"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was funny throughout, the best parts involved
Steve Carell's interactions with his character's male co-workers, not the
love interest played by Catherine Keener. (Although I've got to admit I
HATE the newly coined term "bromance")
"I Love You, Man" focuses on man love from beginning to end, making
the fiancee secondary to the relationship between two new friends
played by Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. It's a hilarious comedy made
even more successful because so much of the satire seems fresh. Even
the movie's obligatory vomit humor is written in a way that makes it feel
like the first puke joke you've ever seen.
The premise is refreshing, twisting around the idea of a man in search
of a significant other. Peter isn’t trying to get laid, hook up with the hot
chick, lose his virginity, or exploit any of the other numerous cliché plots
in comparable adult comedies. It’s most amusing to see that acquiring a
male platonic friend is the more formidable game.
After Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) proposes to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones) and begins preparing for their big day, he
realizes he’s never really had a close enough friend to be best man at his wedding. Taking the advice from his family, and a
little tutoring from his gay brother Robbie (Andy Samberg in a hilarious supporting role), Peter initiates several awkward and
highly unsuccessful “man dates” in an attempt to find a worthy friend. On the verge of giving up, Klaven randomly meets
Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a brazenly straight-forward, recklessly carefree troublemaker who oddly has quite a bit in
common with Peter. As the two quickly bond, Peter’s relationship with Zooey becomes strained and he must determine if his
newfound friend’s audacious attitude is actually ruining his chance at finding true happiness.
Director-writer John Hamburg could have played the relationship strictly for humor, and the movie would have been OK. But
he's careful to make the chemistry between the leads as believable as any good conventional romance. Peter and Sydney
are completely different, but each of their perceived shortcomings holds the key to making the other happy. Sydney needs
Peter's willing friendship just as much as Peter needs Sydney's man cave. Yes, there's a man cave. And just about
everything involving this den of electric guitars, masturbation and big-screen televisions is pants-wetting funny.
The supporting characters are equally inventive. Running jokes involving Peter's gay brother and accepting father and
some dysfunctional married friends hit their marks in scene after scene. The movie also features comedic stabs at Lou
Ferrigno, real estate agents and a tribute to the band Rush that is both funny and sincerely affectionate.
About the worst thing that can be said for "I Love You, Man" is that it's exclusionist. Like the movie "Swingers" or "Knocked
Up," this film seems aimed for a specific demographic - in this case the newly married or people who are heading down that
“I Love You, Man” exhibits both Paul Rudd and Jason Segel’s nearly impeccable comic timing which admirably extracts the
maximum number of laughs from a script that can’t quite keep up with their momentum. The plot offers virtually no
surprises, and its formulaic approach to a fairly unique perspective on the awkward humor of male bonding doesn’t help the
film’s impact, but fortunately the two leads’ enthusiastic energy (and willingness to do anything for a laugh) keeps the
proceedings lively, raunchy and often surprisingly entertaining.
The movie also deserves some kind of award
for the most deceptive trailers in a recent
comedy. The commercials, including one that
focuses almost entirely on the least funny
Ferrigno scene, seem designed to make the
film look mediocre.
Go ahead into the theater with low expectations.
And then be surprised by one of the better
comedies of the past year. And definitely the
best movie of the five I watched this weekend.