I Love You, Man – movie review.
The saying: “I Love You, Man” is a decidedly hippy-ish Dude-erism – a phrase that inherently feels like it belongs in a bong-smoked corner of California, and one that as a movie’s title, I suspect will put off a large percentage of Blokey audiences from giving this film a chance. Which is a shame, as it’s a lot of fun.
In recent times, several quarters of the media have (erroneously) adopted the term “Bromance” as short-hand for what we used to call “Buddy Comedies.” The straight man / funny man dynamic has been a core ingredient of comedy that has been exploited in cinema as far back as Laurel & Hardy, so the new genre definition seems somewhat moot. Perhaps marketing agencies and post-modernistas feel the need to put a fresh label on something familiar to make it taste different and new, but this film, be it “Bromance” or not, could easily be filed alongside Dumb & Dumber, Trading Places, Cheech & Chong, The Odd Couple, Abbott & Costello or countless others. This is a funny film that happens to have two male leads: if anything has changed over the years it is society’s perspective of a platonic relationship between two men – in more naïve times we could happily accept Morecambe & Wise sharing a double bed together, now we have to question their intentions and wonder what insidious darkness lurks in the unvoiced shadows. “Bromance” is not a term I intend to adopt or use in the rest of this article… or elsewhere.
In “I Love You, Man” Paul Rudd’s “Peter” realises soon after his engagement that whilst he’s frequently happy in female company, he doesn’t actually have any close male friends, and hence nobody he can ask to be his best man. This epiphany forces him to actively seek out a new buddy by going on a series of man dates; awkwardly imposing himself on his spouse’s friends’ partners; hanging out at a gym; and so on. Ultimately, slacker dude Sydney (Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Jason Segel) chances his way into Pete’s life, and before you can say Man-Cave the two are bonding over shared love of all things guy-related: snappy nicknames, playing air guitar to hair metal, and of course swapping dvds of Lost.
To be brutally honest, there are few surprises and the plot plays out in a familiar, if formulaic way. However, an abundance of great visual & scripted gags, as well as an embarrassment of talented performers means that the movie will easily keep most audiences laughing along all the way to the climactic inevitable marriage scene.
Every moment that doesn’t directly involve both Rudd & Segel together will have you going “Oh, it’s Thingy from Whatsit! I didn’t know they were in this!” Rashida Jones (daughter of Quincy) plays a perfectly understanding foil and fiancée to Rudd and makes their relationship believable and investable enough that instantly quashes any snidey suggestions of homoerotic subtext. Andy Samberg (formerly aka Hot Rod) further silences the snickering pseuds by playing Rudd’s openly gay brother who dispenses vital tutelage in how to make man-friends.
This is not an A-list movie, but it is a very strong B-listers’. Rudd in particular seems to be going from comedic strength to strength with this coming only a few months after the surprising quality of Role Models: a pleasing if overdue development after seeing him play backgroundy bit-parts in Friends, Anchorman, and the 40 Year Old Virgin. Writer/Director John Hamburg is in familiar territory after past features such as Along Came Polly and Meet the Parents/Fockers, but has cleverly adapted to the prevalent Apatow-influenced “foul-mouthed-but-earnest-dudes” sub genre that has spawned hits like Pineapple Express and Superbad in recent years.
Coming out at a crowded time of year, this may enjoy a brief moment in the spotlight before the Summer Blockbusters march into town, but will most likely enjoy a wider audience and longevity on dvd, assuming the slightly awkward title doesn’t put people off.