Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man is the latest from writer/director John Hamburg whose previous directing job was the less than stellar Along Came Polly. However, he's also the guy who contributed to the screenplays for Zoolander and Meet the Parents, the latter of which is one of my favorite comedies of the past decade. That, coupled with the use of two of the most relevant funny guys in the business right now in Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, had me very much looking forward to this movie.

The story is simple, silly, and a bit contrived. Rudd's character, Peter Klaven, is getting married but doesn't have any close friends. He was always a girlfriend kind of guy, so now he's scrounging at the last minute to find a best man. I imagine he could have easily used his brother or his dad, but that wouldn't be very entertaining. After a hilarious failed attempt to bond at a guy's poker night, Peter begins to go on a series of "man-dates," getting advice from his homosexual brother. This turns out exactly as you'd expect, and Peter had just about given up hope when he meets Sydney Fife (Segel), a philosophical, free spirited fellow, at a open house for a Hollywood mansion that Peter is trying to sell. They hit it off immediately and go out for some beers and fish tacos which leads to future "dates;" usually last minute, and usually involving Peter skipping work to go walk on the boardwalk or practice their Rush set list in Sydney's "man-cave" on his plethora of band equipment. Of course, this starts to not sit well with Peter's fiancé, Zooey, who has been more than supportive to this point. Peter then reverts back to his old, whipped self and basically breaks up with Sydney, who is heart broken, especially since all of his other friends have grown up and moved on with their lives. There is never any real conflict and of course the ending wraps everything up nicely.

Obviously in a film like this, the story is completely unimportant compared to the chemistry between the actors and the humor of the dialog and the situations, the latter of which is there in full force. Paul Rudd pulls off "awkward moments" better that than most of his peers, and in I Love You, Man he is completely unable to end a conversation with a guy without saying something ridiculous. These were the funniest moments of the movie to me. Jason Segel does a great job playing a real character rather than a comedic caricature, however, the relationship between Sidney and Peter is not as comfortable and realistic as John Hamburg wants us to believe. It's obviously trying to be the ultimate "bromantic" comedy, but it frequently skirts the line between "bromance" and homoerotic. If this was a film about Peter struggling with his sexuality, that would be one thing, but it's not. The truth is, Peter's declaration of love for Sydney at the end of the film feels much more heartfelt than his actual wedding vows.

While I enjoyed this film and thought it had some very funny moments, especially the scenes with Jon Favreau, I do not think it deserves all of the high praise it's been getting. Frankly, it doesn't hold a candle to films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, or Knocked Up, although it's obviously try to emulate some of the formulas that made those films so successful. I Love You, Man will make you laugh, probably a lot, and is very earnest in its attempt at real, heartfelt comedy. I even recommend checking it out, I just don't think it accomplished what it was trying to do, and that left me feeling a little disappointed.

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