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Awesome: 2.27%
Worth A Look79.55%
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6 reviews, 8 user ratings

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I Love You, Man
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Bros Before Prose"
4 stars

“I Love You, Man” is a film with a premise so implausible that it almost makes “Fired Up” seem Shakespearian by comparison, a screenplay that is little more than a collection of scenes strung together practically at random and direction that could generously be described as “haphazard.” Under normal circumstances, these flaws would be the kiss of death for most ordinary films but in the case of the comedy genre, such things can theoretically be ignored or at least overlooked as long it has the decency to provide viewers with enough laughs. Luckily, that is exactly what happens with “I Love You, Man”--although it is a mess by virtually every aesthetic standard that one could possibly think of, it contains just enough laugh-out-loud moments to allow you to more or less push its numerous problems to the side for at least the duration of its running time.

The increasingly invaluable Paul Rudd stars as sweet-natured real-estate agent Peter Klaven and as the film opens, he has just successfully proposed marriage to his dream girl, Zooey (Rashida Jones). Everything seems perfect in Peter’s life except for one little detail--for whatever reason, he has never been able to cultivate any long-lasting friendships with other males (though he has plenty of chums of the opposite gender) and subsequently has no one that he can ask to serve as his best man. To cure this, his family and friends set him up on a series of “man-dates” in the hopes of finding him both a best pal and a best man. When all of these attempts result in complete failures, Peter is about to give up when he inadvertently meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a shambling oddball who appears to be living in a state of perpetual adolescence--he’s the kind of guy who spends more time and energy dreaming up justifications for refusing to clean up after his dog than he would have used if he just cleaned up the mess in the first place. Despite not really having much of anything in common, the two immediately hit it off and become fast friends. Everything seems swell for a while but problems inevitably begin to arise as the once-understanding Zooey becomes increasingly exasperated about the amount of time that her fiancée is spending with his new pal, especially after Sydney presents a spectacularly inappropriate toast at her engagement party.

Although current king of comedy Judd Apatow had nothing to do with “I Love You, Man,” director John Hamburg and co-writer Larry Levin were clearly working from his template when putting it together. Like the majority of Apatow’s work, it features the basic premise of someone being dragged out of their insulated world into full adulthood, a number of wildly outrageous comedic set-pieces, a fascination with arcane bits of pop-culture flotsam and jetsam a cast comprised largely of actors culled from previous Apatow films, extended sequences in which it is fairly obvious that said cast has been encouraged to throw the script away and improvise and a running time that is about 20 minutes too long for its own good, largely as the result of the time wasted on those aforementioned bits of improv. Alas, it is the things that Hamburg and Levin haven’t appropriated from Apatow (besides Apatow himself) that make all the difference. For starters, while the best films that Apatow has been involved with (such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Superbad” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) have all been outrageous comedies, they have all been based upon premises that most viewers can recognize and understand (problems with intimacy, fears of separation and trying to recover from a romance gone wrong), “I Love You, Man” is built upon a foundation that doesn’t make sense on either a thematic or narrative level--the screenplay gives Peter both a brother (Andy Samberg) and a father (J.K. Simmons) that he is on good terms with but never bothers to explain why he just doesn’t ask one of them to be his best man.

While Apatow’s work is usually filled with plenty of extraneous material that could have easily been left for the deleted scenes section of the DVD, the better examples usually feature storylines that are fairly solid in their construction while this one is kind of a mess from a narrative perspective--instead of satirizing the conventions of the typical contemporary romantic comedy by replicating their beats from a male-male perspective, this film simply embraces them wholeheartedly and without irony. And while Apatow is usually generous enough as a filmmaker to give all of his actors their moments to shine, Hamburg largely pushes his supporting cast to the background without giving them much to do--what is the point of bringing in someone like Rashida Jones, who demonstrated her considerable comedic chops on “The Office” a couple of seasons back, and sticking her with the boring girlfriend role that never takes advantage of her gifts as a comedienne?

These are all major problems and for most ordinary films, they would simply be insurmountable but “I Love You, Man” manages to overcome them for the most part simply because when it is funny, it is really funny. Don’t worry, I am not about to sit here and give away the funniest bits--that would be especially cruel in the case of a film that has practically nothing else going for it besides the effectiveness of those bits. However, I will say that Paul Rudd, who has grown into one of the more reliably amusing comedic performers in recent years (largely as the result of his membership in Apatow’s stock company), is absolutely hilarious here--the running gag in which he offers up amazingly awkward and garbled half-sentences in his pained efforts to sound cool and relaxed is one of the few on display here that doesn‘t get old as things progress. As his would-be best pal, Jason Segel gets the more broadly comedic bits and while his character doesn’t always make a lot of sense, his bizarrely blunt manner is pretty amusing as well. And since I have noticed that the TV commercials for the film have seen fit to reveal his presence, I will note that none other than Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk himself, turns up briefly as himself towards the end and inspires some of the biggest laughs.

“I Love You, Man” is not a great comedy by any means--for long stretches, it isn’t even a very good one--and even those who find themselves looking favorably upon it are likely to completely forget about it in only a couple of weeks, especially after the truly hilarious and surprisingly thoughtful “Adventureland” makes its debut. However, it does contain a few big laughs and the reasonably inspired comedic pairing of Rudd and Segel and the attempts at outrageous comedy never really cross the line into outright tastelessness. These may not be grand virtues but they are virtues nevertheless and if they are all that you require for a satisfying night at the movies, then you may come away from this one liking, if not quite loving, it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17450&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/20/09 00:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/01/10 Lacey M Had some parts that made me laugh out loud. Drags out the ending. 4 stars
5/05/10 Luisa Paul Rudd is hilarious! 5 stars
2/18/10 Robert Cunningham It is different, likeabe, not into the metrosexual thing. 4 stars
2/17/10 Danny Goode great movie 3 stars
2/02/10 Monday Morning I had no expectations and found this film delightful and funny. 4 stars
8/13/09 the dork knight A few dramatic conceits to one side, it's OK. Paul Rudd is castrated but likable. 4 stars
7/26/09 Simon My CAPS-happy friend below is right,but weirdly enough it works for me,unique comedy style 4 stars
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  20-Mar-2009 (R)
  DVD: 11-Aug-2009


  DVD: 11-Aug-2009

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  John Hamburg

Written by
  John Hamburg

  Paul Rudd
  Jason Segel
  Jaime Pressly
  Rashida Jones
  Rob Huebel

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