This may be pushing the limits that I sort-of (but not really at all) established about how recent a movie can be to qualify for this throwback feature, but darn it if today’s entry doesn’t qualify for one of the more memorable buddy-comedies. . . ever. It’s a slight film, but it’s also infectiously feel-good, and a delightfully breezy way to spend an hour and a half with a film. Such are the simple qualifications for the throwbacks of this month! Hope you enjoy.
Today’s food for thought: I Love You, Man.
Release: March 20, 2009
Paul Rudd seems to be able to work a smile onto anyone’s face, no matter whom he’s working alongside, or in front of what audience persuasion he may be performing. He’s got this easy charm to him that is impossible to resist. (And if you can, then you’re simply jealous of not being quite as cool as he is.)
Then, when you pair him off with someone like Freaks & Geeks‘ Jason Segel — an equally lovable goofball who’s as gangly and awkward as he is tall — the only thing left a director needs to do with his film is scout the locations. The movie is already written, just by casting these two sincerely funny men. To me, for some reason the script for I Love You, Man is so natural and organic it wouldn’t be a great surprise to learn that half of it was improvised. Yet, at the same time, names like Rudd and Segel aren’t quite huge enough to drown out the rest of the cast; instead, they blend perfectly with the rest, creating one of the most enjoyable buddy-comedies in recent years.
John Hamburg (Along Came Polly)’s film follows Peter Klaven (Rudd) around town as he goes on a mission to find a Best Man for his upcoming wedding to the beautiful Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones). Having learned of the, shall we say, ‘deep’ conversations his fiancé has been having with her girlfriends, Peter has a rude awakening — he has never been one to have platonic friendships. With the women, he’s always been a girlfriend kind of guy, and as Peter’s younger brother (a gay Andy Samberg) puts it, “all his male friends just sort of fell to the wayside.”
Peter’s an ace at selling homes — specifically, bungalos, low-rise apartments. . .that sort of thing. One day he’s given an opportunity to sell a house way out of his league — namely, the multi-million dollar mansion belonging to none other than Lou Ferrigno, “the Hulk, from television.” During an open house for this spectacular property, he comes across the amiable, albeit strange, Sydney Fife (Segel) and the two strike up a conversation about cars, finger foods, and farting in open houses. It appears to be the first honest interaction Peter’s had with a stranger in quite some time, and the two begin hanging out often, becoming fast friends.
Ironically it’s this Sydney who is now responsible for Peter’s increasing distance from Zooey, who is initially beyond-excited for Peter’s latest “man-date” with this unseen Sydney guy, but as time goes on, the new relationship starts to pose as a threat to the soon-to-be-wed couple. Peter can’t prioritize his time. Even worse, he is so socially awkward he doesn’t realize that compartmentalizing friendship doesn’t realistically work. Since Sydney and Peter have such great bromantic chemistry, Peter’s thinking this is clearly the guy to be at his wedding. Yet Sydney thinks Peter’s just lonely and in need of a friend (which is also true).
I Love You, Man is a heartwarming comedy featuring fine work from both Rudd and Segel, who play off one another’s energy throughout the entire film. The film also offers an ensemble cast putting forth quite the effort as well, with hilarious performances from Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressley (as the gleefully dysfunctional married couple Zooey is friendly with); Sarah Burns as Hailey, Zooey’s beyond-desperately single friend; and Rob Huebel playing Peter’s obnoxious co-worker, Tevin Downey.
This particular film may not take you to any new places in terms of the type of comedy and it doesn’t offer locations that will stick in your mind long afterwards, yet that’s all part of the unassuming beauty of I Love You, Man — it’s so grounded in reality that one can hardly tell where real life and the cinematic life in this one converge.
As a piece of popcorn entertainment, its surprisingly substantial in that this speaks volumes about the insecurities people are bound to have when getting married. Is everything in the right order? What’s going to change when we are married, particularly the friendships? There’s nothing that’s profound as such, but the message contained herein is just sweet enough and important enough to keep this film at the top of the pile in terms of quality buddy-comedies. An incredible on-screen chemistry between two comedic pros helps ensure this. As well, our romantic couple feel so natural, forming a charming relationship that you cannot wait to see finally tie the knot at long last.
Recommendation: John Hamburg’s latest is by no means a timeless classic, but as far as contemporary feel-good’s are concerned, this one has remarkable staying power. This is earned from the great interactions between Rudd and Segel who form a believable, lovable friendship, and the rest of the cast do lovely work all around as well. For as many decently rude jokes that are sprinkled throughout, this is also a surprisingly mature film, one that shouldn’t be missed for comedy devotees.
Running Time: 105 mins.
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