Wednesday, April 1, 2009

REVIEW: I LOVE YOU, MAN (***1/2)

If your goal is to make a funny movie, it really does help when your cast includes Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jon Favreau, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Jaime Presley, Andy Samberg, Jane Curtin, Jay Chandrasekhar, Ben Garant, and Lou Ferrigno. I Love You, Man (***1/2), from director John Hamburg, is the first laugh-out-loud movie I have seen this year. The script, by Hamburg and co-writer Larry Levin, is a clever romantic comedy that gets to play with its genre conventions a bit. It's not going to win awards and it's not a great piece of cinema, but if you're looking for some hearty laughs, look no further than this crowd pleaser.

Rudd is Peter Klaven, an ultra-nice, real estate guy who is engaged to the adorable Zooey (Jones). Problem is, Peter has been a girl-friend man all his life, and as a result, he doesn't have a solid group of guy friends to hang out and develop his masculinity with. Spurred on by Zooey to meet a cool new friend, Peter goes on a series of awkward (and often hilarious) blind dates in an effort to find a best friend, and ultimately, a best man for his wedding. I hate using the already annoying pop-culture term "bromance," but that's basically what this movie becomes after Peter meets the scruffy man of his dreams, Sidney Fife, played with natural, laconic ease and charm by Segel. Segel, who was in last year's good-hearted raunch-fest Forgetting Sarah Marshall, has impeccable timing and delivery, and he and Rudd are a great team. Sidney is everything that Peter isn’t – outgoing, sloppy but somehow contained, sexually aggressive, and just a tad crazy. Watching them develop their friendship is the movie's highlight, and the inclusion of Ferrigno (playing himself and poking fun at his Hulk persona a bit) as Peter's top-client, is an inspired bit of writing and casting. All of the supporting actors nail their scenes, with Favreau, Simmons, and Samberg really standing out. In fact, some of the film's funniest material belongs to Favreau and Presley as a bickering married couple who are constantly at odds with each other.

Some of the humor is of the gross-out variety, and some of it revolves around sexual practices, so, yes, there is a definite juvenile streak that I Love You, Man revels in. The film does feel cut from the Apatow cloth; nothing impressive is done with the camera, the performers have clearly been allowed to improvise, and you end up laughing so hard that you miss a few of the jokes. The script throws in a few surprises here and there, but you definitely can tell where it's going. By now, Rudd has proven himself to be a capable supporting player, but in this flick he really busts out and delivers the goods. He was funny in last year’s slightly underwhelming Role Models, and he stole the show in Knocked Up. But here, Rudd really comes alive. Hamburg's last directorial effort, the lame-ass Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller, Jennifer Anniston, and a ferret, was a film that I pretty much detested, except for the presence of an extremely disheveled Philip Seymour Hoffman as an aging child television star. The humor in I Love You, Man feels more real and honest than in the super-contrived Along Came Polly. Hamburg, who also co-wrote Zoolander and Meet the Parents, is obviously a talented guy, and for the first time as a director, he's brought it all together. This is the kind of movie that you see in the theater, laugh your ass off with, and then grab the DVD when it hits the previously-viewed bin so that you can catch all the stuff you missed the first time around because you were laughing too hard.

4 comments:

Wayne said...

Great movie.

Actionman said...

Yeah, it did the trick. I laughed a lot.

Adam Wallace said...

Did Jay Chandrasekhar even get a word in? he better be on the dvd.

Actionman said...

He has a few scenes, says a few lines, but he's mostly background. still, it's a helluva cast. and there are a few people I forgot to mention.