24 May 2009

Movie Review: I Love You, Man


B+

I Love You, Man
2009, 105mins, R
Director: John Hamburg
Writer (s): John Hamburg, Larry Levin
Cast includes: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressly, J.K Simmons, Andy Samburg, Thomas Lennon, Sarah Burns, Jon Favreau, Jane Curtin
Release Date: 20th March 2009

“I Love You, Man” is an impressive comedic duet between Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, with a few neat supporting acts to prop them up from time to time. Pitched as a Bromantic comedy the film is directed by John Hamburg who made the imperfect but still underrated Ben Stiller comedy “Along Came Polly”. Like with “Polly” Hamburg’s direction leaves a little to be desired but his writing is top dollar, indeed the wonderfully witty and consistently engaging screenplay is what really makes “I Love You, Man” such a genre delight. It’s got some creaks and groans to bemoan, but overall this is a lovable picture in the mould of recent Judd Apatow successes, sharing the man’s desire of well forged emotional depth and knob gags without his name appearing anywhere on the credits.

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) has always been more of a ladies’ man, able to connect seamlessly with all the estrogen around him but without a same sex buddy in the world. After proposing to long time love Zooey (Rashida Jones) it hits Peter that he has no best man, and so with the help of gay brother Robbie (Andy Samburg) he begins to look for potential candidates. After a series of woeful “man dates” go wrong Peter stumbles upon Sidney, a relaxed and testosterone pumped dude who just wants to have fun. Unexpectedly the two click and before long they’re chilling out nearly every day, but as Peter fully begins to appreciate the advantages of male companionship, he slowly starts to lose Zooey in the joyfully masculine blur.

Paul Rudd has always been both a talented comic and a decent actor, a rare combo that if life was fair would make him one of the most sought after men in Hollywood. Granted since 2007 his star has been noticeably rising, but really given his breadth of ability the filmmakers of the world should really be clicking sooner. As Peter, Rudd is excellent, a little happier and less cynical than usual, but still exhibiting his renowned ability with improvised material and quick witted way with a punch line. Like all of cinema’s most engaging funnymen Rudd has a way of connecting and concocting believable characters, then gift wrapping them in a shiny and wonderfully appealing comedic glean. Jason Segel is a commodity I’ve had slightly less success enjoying over the years, he was amusing in a small role in “Knocked Up” but little better than average in the over appreciated “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. However as playful knock about Sidney, Segel has finally delivered something I found remotely worthy of the generous praise he’s garnered from other bases. He exhibits good comic timing and an equally efficient way with improv, leaning his portrayal of the ultimate man child into enjoyable comic territory. His rapport with Rudd is well pitched and whilst he’ll need to repeat this sort of skilled comic performance a few more times before I totally buy in, this was a rewarding if slightly belated pitch in my direction.

Rashida Jones is effective, pretty and cute as the wife to be, showcasing good chemistry with Rudd at the same time. A whole host of other familiar comic faces pop up during the runtime, the most impressive being Jaime Pressly, Andy Samburg, Jon Favreau and Thomas Lennon, the latter playing one of Peter’s many attempts at making friends gone wrong.

The technical direction from Hamburg could have been better, and at 105 minutes I’m also unlikely to believe this couldn’t have been a slightly trimmer mainstream comedy. Still the screenplay is very good, not that original, but boiling with quality jokes and surprisingly well formed characters. Despite his absence it’s hard not to lump “I Love You, Man” in with the Apatow back catalogue, and if it was to be ranked amongst them “Man” is a foot above “Drillbit Taylor” and Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, but a pace behind “Knocked Up” and “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. The reason for being that “I Love You , Man” maybe lacks any of the true inspiration that was seasoned over the latter pair, but by turns is more credibly laugh worthy and emotionally resonant than the other aforementioned titles. Hamburg has penned an entertaining and boppy little screenplay that fizzes with high ambitions, and unlike most genre counterparts has the good will and respect to make good on them. In terms of the amount of laughs offered this picture chugs along solidly and without many dry patches, at times the jokes are cheap and a little vulgar, but what’s funny is funny, right?

The movie is fairly openly craving to be seen as a male bonding movie, and is being marketed strongly in that direction. This wouldn’t be lying as the core theme in the picture is the solidly played out relationship between Peter and Sidney, the final scene hammering home Hamburg’s desire to have this embraced as a film that really highlights the importance of good friends. However to write “I Love You, Man” of as a date movie would be uncool and unwise, the romantic elements are also well executed and in terms of decent gags it’s got a more than respectable quota. Appealing and more memorable than a lot of its kin, “I Love You, Man” isn’t a classic but it’s definitely recommended for those looking for a good time, and maybe a little intimate bonding. Even if it’s whole heartedly of the bromantic variation.



A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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