I have a bit of an odd tendency to mentally rank comedies, which I’ve found to be a nice way to manage my expectations going in. So I wasn’t really expecting as much from I Love You, Man as I would from, say, a new Will Ferrell-Adam McKay movie (though Step Brothers was a bit of a letdown), but there’s some really funny people in this movie. And as much as I enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Role Models (especially Role Models; that movie is awesome), I Love You, Man isn’t on par with those movies. But it’s still pretty funny.
In case you’re unaware, the movie follows Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a “girlfriend guy,” someone who’s always focused more on his relationships with women, at the expense of his male friendships. In the first scene he proposes to his girlfriend (played by Rashida Jones of The Office), and minutes later realizes he has no guy friends to call, and no candidates for his best man. At the advice of his gay younger brother (Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg), he goes on a series of “man dates” to find his new best friend, eventually meeting Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). The two hit it off, and there is much male bonding.
I loved Role Models mostly because of Paul Rudd, one of my favorite comic actors (it also helped that in that movie he basically plays a more handsome version of myself), and not only is he also hilarious in I Love You, Man, but he’s hilarious playing essentially the exact opposite of his Role Models character. In that film he’s a cynical, impatient, vaguely arrogant jerk, and here he plays an incredibly sweet pushover, the sort of guy who spontaneously surprises his girlfriend and her friends with root beer floats. It’s a testament to Rudd’s talent that he’s totally believable – and funny – in both roles.
Jason Segel got a lot of attention, and deservedly so, for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the excellent romantic comedy he wrote and starred in. He’s hilarious here as well as the ostensible “man’s man,” but he never really steals the movie the way it seems like he was supposed to. But to credit writer/director John Hamburg, Sydney’s more than just some super-macho ideal – he actually seems sort of pathetic at times, his persona occasionally seeming a bit like an act – and I Love You, Man actually manages to make some interesting observations about modern masculinity. Don’t get me wrong, Fight Club this ain’t, but I was impressed that Hamburg resisted the urge to idealize Sydney and make Peter just a spineless metrosexual who has to be taught how to be a “real man.”
My only real gripe with I Love You, Man isn’t even specific to the movie, but rather it’s an issue that seems to affect all studio comedies nowadays, which is the third-act Part Where Things Get Serious. It’s a conflict that’s both entirely tacked-on and totally predictable – Peter’s new friendship with Sydney eventually leads to friction with his fiancée on the eve of their wedding – but thankfully it’s mercifully short.
Overall I Love You, Man is a pretty funny comedy with a nice little message, and thanks to two great performances from its leads, as well as a murderer’s row of hilarious actors in supporting roles (Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly and Reno: 911!’s Thomas Lennon), it made me laugh a lot more than I expected it to. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s pretty good.
I Love You, Man continues the proud tradition of comedy DVDs packed with funny extras. There’s a standard making-of featurette, which isn’t anything special. The main draw is the copious amount of deleted and extended scenes (which are pretty much all funny; I think I laughed harder at the extras than I did at the actual movie, and that’s not a knock on the movie at all) as well as a gag reel and a wealth of alternate takes. Like a lot of comedies, I Love You, Man is very improv-heavy, so many of the alternate takes feature lines and gags that are totally different from the ones in the finished film. Just getting to watch Jon Favreau improv with Jaime Pressly – they play a not-quite-happily married couple, and I’d happily watch a spin-off movie just about their bickering characters – is a treat. Favreau’s a big-deal director now thanks to Iron Man, but anyone who’s seen the Swingers or Made DVDs (two great movies and two phenomenal DVDs) knows how brilliant and funny he is when improvising.
There’s also a commentary track from writer/director John Hamburg, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, and it’s quite a lot of fun. Hamburg, while a funny guy himself, focuses more on production details, while Rudd and Segel just try to make each other and Hamburg laugh, with Segel spending the first section of the movie apologizing repeatedly to viewers that his character hasn’t shown up yet. A great DVD for a solid movie.
Labels: DVD review