Feb 21, 2014

[Movies] I Love You, Man (2009)

It turns out that my partner Tobie has a fair number of Jason Segel movies. And so when I'm digging around for something to watch while I'm home alone, I keep coming across them. And at the end of a stressful work day, I really can't handle more than a decent comedy - the stressful period dramas will have to wait.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from I Love You, Man, but it was nice to see that Paul Rudd is pretty much back to making movies. I swear, the man has not visibly aged since I first saw him in Clueless, and this is not a bad thing at all. And he's still highly adorable in a nice boy next door kind of way.

The movie is built around a weird concept - a man who has never really had guy friends for most if not all of his life. And while this seems like a perfect situation for introducing a gay twist, that's not at all the point of the movie (although there are a few jokes along those lines). There's a lot more to more to this comedy on the surface and the resulting situations are pretty strange and hilarious at the same time.

Synopsis: I Love You, Man is a romantic comedy initially written by Larry Levin. It was eventually rewritten by eventual director John Hamburg.

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a real estate agent who has finally proposed to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones). This is perceived to be good news by their friends, although there's one minor hiccup - Peter doesn't seem to have any guy friends. And thus when the question of who would be Peter's best man, there are no immediate candidates. He's great with women and he tends to focus all of his energies on them and thus ignores all of his guy friends. And when he overhears Zooey's girlfriends joking about his lack of friends, he decides to do something about it.

So Peter first turns to his gay brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg) and try out a number of crazy techniques for getting him to socialize more. But Peter's not exactly great at social situations and this becomes painfully obvious with each new "man date" that he goes on. Ironically it's not on one of these forced dates that he manages to meet a potential friend - and this is the somewhat eccentric Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), whom he meets at an open house that he's hosting for his client, Lou Ferrigno. As the two hang out more and more, Peter grows into the friendship more and more, but perhaps at the expense of his relationship with Zooey.

The movie first indulges in all the possibly strange situations a friendless guy like Peter can get into. The initial sequence of man dates is certainly milked for all the humor that there is to be found, which includes a very elderly gentleman, a man even more socially awkward than him (as played by Joe Lo Truglio) and other stuff. These various stories aren't even one-offs - they still manage to come into play a few more times in the movie. And that was a little unexpected.

Admittedly there's a lot of situations in the movie that feel a bit more awkward than I'm comfortable with. The humor is based around the careful dance along the edge between the strangely funny and the painfully uncomfortable, but it dances back and forth a bit more than I'd like. But it doesn't completely cross over into being fully annoying.

Paul Rudd is his usual adorable little self, although he seriously had to scale down the confidence level in this movie. But it sorta works since Jason Segel's friendship eventually helps build up that confidence back to where it needs to be. As a character, Sydney's methods may seem a little unusual if not extreme, but in the long run it's still a good thing. And the character development  is a nice touch - a lot of comedies rely on people behaving like one and off switches with that classic pivotal moment when everything changes.

The movie is about the relationship between two men - who aren't gay. But admittedly there's a lot to be said about their pairing and the movie really tries to play off the complexities of guy relationships. And don't knock it - there's a lot to be said about the subject. And while this isn't some sort of in-depth study of things, but it was certainly entertaining. There are a lot of things that gay guys get a bum rap for, but when straight guys do it among their friends it's okay.

I Love You, Man is a weird movie and I'm surprised that I enjoyed it. I was admittedly prepared to hate it when it started, but over time it sort of grew on me. I'm happy to rate the movie as a good 4 strange man-date twists out of a possible 5.

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