Movie Review: I Love You, Man

Hearing the plot of I Love You, Man, you could be forgiven for avoiding it. It wasn’t a giant Hangover-esque box office smash, nor did it receive rave reviews. However, by assembling a stellar cast and pairing them with a solid script, not only does John Hamburg’s film end up sidestepping the crass stereotyping that lower-grade comedies often trade in, but also winds up being better than you’d ever preconceive it would be.

Set around Rudd’s successful Hollywood real estate agent Peter Klaven, the movie’s plot is the classic rom-com turned on its head: rather than being a man’s man who’s looking for a good woman to love, Klaven is engaged to a beautiful woman but has no male friend to be his best man. While trying to sell the mansion of Lou ‘original Hulk’ Ferrigno, Klaven encounters Jason Segel’s enigmatic Sydney Fife, sparking a friendship that could finally give Klaven the best friend he’s never had…

The movie’s central conceit is a straightforward but clever one, yet the plot is not where the strength of this film lies. Rather, it’s the sterling work of Rudd and Segel, not to mention a stellar supporting cast, that drives this film and makes it an enjoyable feature rather than a bad series of puerile gay jokes. Rudd is excellent in the central role and is charmingly awkward while trying to make friends with guys; the series of ‘man-dates’ he goes on are painful to watch at times, as he encounters misinformed homosexuals and overzealous sports fans. Segel’s Fife is a bit of a lunatic really, someone who blows his top at passers-by who ask him to clean up his dog’s poop and jams out at home to Rush, but he’s a very funny foil to Rudd’s straight-laced bumbler.

Adding to the excellent central pair is an outrageously talented supporting cast featuring Jon Favreau, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg, Jaime Pressly, and The (American) Office’s Rashida Jones as Klaven’s fiance Zooey. This blockbusting talent really lifts the movie above most comparable comedies and makes every scene eminently more watchable, wringing every last laugh out of Hamburg’s screenplay without grossly overplaying their hand. Simmons and Samberg stand out in their limited screentime as Peter’s father and brother respectively, offering up awesomely disgusting one liners, although they also make you wish they had a touch more time to strut their funny stuff.

The script itself is solidly built, offering up some memorable set-pieces – like a woeful golf outing and the aforementioned man-dates – but ironically it suffers from the standard rom-com problem: it all gets a bit mushy in the final third. There’s the classic falling-out scenes and reconciliations, the ups and downs played out to a music-accompanied montage of shots in a manner overly recognisable to anyone familiar with the genre. Nevertheless, it evades just about enough of the clichés to ensure that the conceits it tries so hard to avoid never quite have time to catch up to the main story.

An internet poll recently asked its readers if anyone disliked (or knew of anyone who disliked) Paul Rudd, and they came up with 0%. With lead performances like this, you can see why he’s so eminently loveable. The only question it leaves is: who wouldn’t want to be his best man?

Verdict: A brilliant cast makes a half-decent movie into a much better one, creating an enjoyable two-hour romp through one man’s awkward friend search and making a mumblecore star of Rudd in the process.

Luke Grundy is a fervent assimilator of media living amid the bright lights of London, England. If he’s not watching films or listening to music, he’s probably asleep, eating or dead. An aspiring writer, journalist and musician, he is the creator of movie/music blog Odessa & Tucson and lives for epistemology.

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