I Love You, Man (2009)
Judging by his offscreen reputation, Paul Rudd could easily win the title of nicest, most relaxed man in Hollywood. Second place for that title could likely go to Jason Segel. So, why not put them in a movie together? Well, they did, and it worked out brilliantly. I Love You, Man is an excellent comedy with a quasi-original story that rises on the great chemistry of its leads (Rudd and Segel, as well as Rudd and Rashida Jones) as well as the strength of its script, which is oftentimes hilarious. Compared to the flashier comedy that came out that year, a little comedy called The Hangover, I Love You Man is much more realistic and much sweeter although still raunchy, making for a slightly better comedy.
I Love You, Man starts out with our main character, a real estate agent named Peter (Paul Rudd) proposing to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones). All his life, Peter has been a girlfriend guy, and it takes Zooey agreeing to marry him for Peter to realize that he has no close male friends. This will prove a problem as Peter needs a best man. However, if one were to liken this film to real life, this would not be a problem. Women can have men of honour, one would think it would work the same way for men. Peter enlists the help of his gay brother (Andy Samberg) in finding guys to go on platonic "man-dates" (casual lunches or after-work drinks) with so he can find a best man.
After a montage of disasters (including a really hilarious guy from Reno 911 that actually turns out to be gay), Peter finds a viable choice in Sydney (Jason Segel), whom he meets at his open house. The open house is a subplot that appears throughout the movie, as Peter needs the money from the Ferrigno estate (yes, that Ferrigno, Lou Ferrigno in a hilarious bit part) to pay for the wedding. Sydney is a pretty cool guy, and it is with his help that Peter learns to loosen up and over the course of the film, Sydney helps him become more confident in himself. You see, Peter starts out as a very wound-up character, mostly because he has no male friends.
It is my belief that everyone, both men and women, needs friends of their own gender. No matter how well you get along with your guy friends if you are a woman or your lady friends if you're a man, there will always be limitations on what you can talk about. With friends of the same gender, you can completely let loose, like Peter and Sydney do in Sydney's man-cave. Peter and Sydney bond over Rush concerts, screaming like gorillas, and talking about sex. He inspires Peter to take more risks, and in turn, Peter helps Sydney overcome some of his flaws. Although Peter thinks that Sydney ruined his life at a point in the film, it turns out that Sydney has improved his life. This is what friends are supposed to do for eachother, make eachother better people while appreciating the eccentricities of the other person.
The story, when one thinks about it, is somewhat original, although it plays out much like a romantic comedy. The exact story of a man who realizes he has no male friends who tries to remedy that by going on several platonic dates has not really been told in any other movie. Despite the idea being somewhat original, it runs exactly like a rom-com meaning it is extremely predictable and you know the ending from a mile away. That is one of my few problems with this movie, mostly because one of the things I hate most about the rom-coms that this parodies is their utter predictability. Another problem I can see coming out of the movie is the fact that since all of the characters are extremely reasonable, there is next to no conflict. I actually think it works in the film's favour because it feels like how real people act as opposed to characters in a movie. Peter, Zooey, and Sydney feel like real people, not caricatures, and that to me gives this film a refreshing touch not often present in movies.
Predictability aside, this film rises on the strength of its actors as well as the oftentimes hilarious script. This film is incredibly well-written, providing for some great laughs as well as good characters. The script, however, brings us to another flaw and another thing that prevented me from ranking this film higher. Some of the raunchy humour feels out of place due to the nature of the film. Some of it works, but a lot of it doesn't and it sometime shifts the film into extremely awkward territory. There are some crudely hilarious moments that kind of appeal to my childish side, like Paul Rudd projectile-vomiting all over Jon Favreau. However, most of the humour works, some prime examples being Lou Ferrigno putting Jason Segel into a sleeper hold and Paul Rudd slappin' da bass, as well as the fact that whenever Peter leaves Sydney voicemails, he flubs his speech almost like a little boy talking to the girl he likes on the playground . It's not the most hilarious movie ever made, and the humour is sometimes awkward, but it is mostly consistent and that's pretty much all I ask in a comedy nowadays. As long as it consistently makes me laugh, I will generally be pleased with it.
|Jobin. If you've seen the film you'll get that joke|
The actors, especially the three leads, all do excellent jobs. I have a feeling that if different actors were cast in the roles of Peter and Sydney, the movie would have lessened in quality because the film is dependent on the chemistry between Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Thankfully, the two actors work brilliantly off of eachother and have great chemistry, each of them turning in excellent performances as Peter and Sydney respectively. I am a huge fan of Paul Rudd and after The Muppets, I am growing to be a huge fan of Jason Segel as well, and it is great to see two of my favourite comedic actors of all time in a movie together. Rashida Jones was excellent as Zooey, Peter's fiancee. She and Rudd have excellent chemistry together as well and they make for a relatively realistic couple in that they have a relationship based on mutual love and respect, unlike the romantic comedies that this film satirizes. The supporting cast is brilliant as well, like Andy Samberg as Peter's brother, JK Simmons as Peter's father, Thomas Lennon as the one of Peter's man-dates that turns out to be gay, and especially Jaime Pressly (AKA Joy Turner on My Name is Earl) and Jon Favreau as Denise and Barry, Zooey's friend and her complete ass-hat of a husband. His mere presence in the movie makes it no question why Peter wants to hang around with women. If you were forced to hang out with Barry and his friends, who wouldn't want to hang out with women? All in all, a strong cast that elevates the film to the quality that it is.
All in all, I Love You Man is a sweet movie that kind of flew under the radar because The Hangover came out that year, despite the fact that this film came out before The Hangover. It has an excellent cast and an excellent script, which are what gives the film any semblance of memorability. It is not a classic, and not a masterpiece, but it made me laugh consistently and I enjoyed the main characters, which is enough to want to watch this movie again and enough to recommend it. I Love You Man is a genuinely funny and genuinely touching look at friendship filled to the brim with great comedic performances, and it is definitely worth a DVD rental sometime in the future.
8.5/10- Highly Recommended