I Love You, Man (2009)

2 Mar

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Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

I’m going out on a limb here having to explain the details of a “bromance.” A “bromance” is a special platonic relationship between two men who not only see each other as best friends, but also as brothers (or “brothers-from-other-mothers”). When it comes to movies, we’ve had plenty of male-bonding/”buddy” movies, but “I Love You, Man” is billed as the first “bromantic”-comedy to be released. This means there’s more emotion to the guys than just being buddies, and it’s like a romantic comedy, but without the sex.

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a real-estate agent, is engaged to marry his adorable, loving girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones). But as they start to prepare their wedding, they draw a blank at the position of “best man.” Peter realizes that while he gets along great with women, he has never had any male best friends. He’s one of those guys who has had more longing relationships with women than men. Even his dad (J.K. Simmons) and brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) are that close to him, though the two are best friends with each other. So Peter decides to search for a new best friend in the way that one would search for a romantic partner—“man-dates.” These don’t work, and in the film’s funniest scene, a candidate played by Thomas Lennon may seem like the right guy but…just wait and see.

At an open house (Lou Ferrigno’s house up for sale), Peter meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) and they hit it off pretty well. Sydney’s a beach bum (who invests every now and then) who likes nothing better than to hang out and do stuff when he’s not lazing about in his “Man Cave,” a separate garage beside his house. Peter and Sydney start hanging out together—they both love the band Rush, they’re honest with each other, and their friendship grows…while Peter’s relationship with Zooey is being questioned.

I had a friend like Sydney. He’s the kind of guy that in many ways is not the right friend for you, but in most ways, he’s the friend that kind of helps boost your self-esteem because he does the things that guys only think about. He just likes to have fun and wants to share it with you. Peter needed a Sydney to balance out his well-organized (albeit boring) lifestyle, especially to boost his own self-esteem. You see, Peter is, with all due respect, a loser. He fails at imitations (he always winds up with an Irish accent), comes with up strange nicknames that don’t make any sense at all, and tries unsuccessfully to deliver jive-talk wisecracks to fill in awkward pauses. He may have a Zooey in his life, but he needs a Sydney.

Paul Rudd as Peter and Jason Segel as Sydney are both likable and play well off one another. You really buy these two as best friends. Of the supporting cast, Rashida Jones is lovely and gamely comedic as Peter’s fiancée, J.K. Simmons and Jane Curtin do nice work as Peter’s parents, and Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressly are hilarious as the married couple from hell—the couple that argues constantly that is not only a funny running gag, but also a clever, subtle message about finding the right partner (romance or bromance, doesn’t matter). Andy Samberg, as Peter’s gay brother who helps set him up on man-dates in the earlier scenes, is basically a one-joke caricature, but he has a few funny lines as well. Thomas Lennon, though his role is short, is freaking hilarious. His voice and mannerisms reminded me a lot of Bill Murray and I mean that in the best possible way.

But wait, how’s the humor? This is after all a comedy and “I Love You, Man” even has this premise that would have fit in a sitcom. And as a result of a funny script, there are many funny one-liners, some shock-value chortles, character-based jokes (such as what goes on inside Sydney’s “Man Cave”), and a great running gag about Lou Ferrigno that is probably best left from this review. However, there are some gags that are hit-and-miss, that leave a trail of awkwardness because there’s hardly a way to recover from them. You have to wait for the next one. And there are also a few jokes that are almost too self-referential that you wonder if Judd Apatow was involved in this project. For the most part, though, “I Love You, Man” is a well-executed, funny, feel-good “bromantic” comedy with engaging performers and surprisingly something sincere to say about relationships.

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