REVIEW: I Love You, Man [2009]

“You sound like a leprechaun”

Hollywood comedy these days is just one giant extended family tree. Everyone—and I mean everyone—has a connection and brings their friends along wherever they go. The new film I Love You, Man is no exception. This is a very good thing, because if I were to go on writer Larry Levin’s previous work, (scripting the Dr. Dolittle remake saga), I would have stayed far, far away. But instead I saw the Apatow flair with Jason Segel and regular Paul Rudd mixed with a little NBC love, (“The Office’s” Rashida Jones, “Earl’s” Jaime Pressly, and “SNL’s” Andy Samberg—who does steal his scenes with facial expressions alone—and Jane Curtain), and just a who’s who of supporting roles. Even director John Hamburg has done work with both Apatow and “The State” gang, much like Rudd. How could it fail right? While it does ends up on par with lesser Judd, see Knocked Up, it is a lot of fun for the duration. Possibly delving too much in the sentimental/heart category, it definitely wears its contributors’ multiple styles on its sleeve. And that’s a very good thing.

Okay, so here I am listening to The Duke Spirit and trying to think about what to say about the movie. I want to give some info on the plot, but singular moments of hilarity keep cropping up, pushing the story to the background. Really, though, a film like this does kind of use its script as a roadmap for gags. The story is obvious: guy asks girl to marry him, realizes he has no guy friends, goes on a journey looking for a best man, finds his platonic soulmate as a result, and watches his world fall apart when finally living his life. Will it all work out? You’ll have to watch to find out, unless of course you have gone to the movies at least once in the past decade … then I’m sure you can make a pretty educated guess. Instead of wasting time elaborating on the plot that you know completely if you’ve seen the trailer, I’ll talk about the laughs and the actors causing them, (yes, a couple times the laughter drowned out the next line, but thankfully filmmakers these days realize this and usually follow the big jokes with filler space or unnecessary dialogue).

You know it’s all about having a good time when guys like Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar or David Krumholtz appear for five seconds of face time. Heck, even Lou Ferrigno joins the crew for a fun role as himself. And what’s this? He also was in an episode of “Reno 911!”? The connections to these comedy cliques are staggering. Speaking of which, Thomas Lennon is great here as well. Sure the trailer gives away a lot of his role, but don’t be disappointed, he returns later on with a priceless moment. It’s not all about the glee at seeing familiar faces, though; the supporting cast really is utilized well and to the actors’ strengths. J.K. Simmons will be the consummate father figure forever now after Juno, Curtain is somewhat wasted but enjoyable, and Samberg is even funnier when you get the full story on his character, that which the preview edits out to just being his father’s best friend, along with Hank of course. Even Jon Favreau is classic as the prick husband to the bride Jones’ best friend Denise. The guy’s deadpan ambivalence and selfishness, complete with toothpick, really shine.

The reason his attitude works so well is that it plays off of Paul Rudd’s effeminate hero Pistol Pete. This isn’t the jerk he portrayed in Role Models; Rudd is the classic “nice guy” here. His love for Chocolat, gossiping with the girls at work, and penchant for getting hit on by gay men become the stereotypes that his character needs to break free of during his evolution. He tries so desperately hard to be cool that he slangs every word out of his mouth while in front of prospective “bros”, coming out as gibberish. Watching Segel’s reactions to the verbal diarrhea spewing from Rudd makes you wonder if those moments were ad-libbed. If not, credit Segel’s acting prowess, because each smile and laugh looked 100% genuine. With Jason’s Sydney, you really do get a mirror image of Peter, just the confident version. The two have so much in common, (love the Rush moments, including the band’s own cameo), that they also need each other to become more well-rounded. While Rudd needs to let loose and be a man sometimes, Segel needs to take notes as well, as far as growing up and realizing life comes with consequences.

And once again, like most of these guys’ comedies have been since The 40-Year Old Virgin, it is so self-referential to the industry. These characters have favorite bands and movies and actors. They impersonate “The Hulk” and James Bond; they watch HBO and visit Legoland with the kids. In other words, these people are like us only placed onscreen. I think that is what works so well for these films, the audience they are marketed towards can relate completely with what is going on. Yes the stakes are a bit heightened: puke becomes a plot point and the use of urinal cakes as a marketing tool is explained, but underneath it all is your life experiences … only played by pretty people. There is a lot to enjoy with I Love You, Man and if nothing else it just keeps the laughs going until Funny People arrives. But maybe that’s rude of me to say. It’s not like all these films are just warm-ups to Apatow’s creations, they exist on their own with success. As long as they all continue to work together and migrate into each other’s films, we the viewers can only rejoice at our good fortune.

I Love You, Man 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

And don’t forget to stay for the credits. Joe Lo Truglio gets his moment and more laughs come out as an epilogue, closing off some plot points before the theatre lights come back up.

photography:
[1] Jason Segel stars as Sydney Fife and Paul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven in DreamWorks Pictures’ I Love You, Man (2009). Photo credit by Scott Garfield. Copyright © DreamWorks Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Paul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven and Jon Favreau stars as Barry in DreamWorks Pictures’ I Love You, Man (2009) Copyright © DreamWorks Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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