I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man

****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Think of the French comedy Mon Meilleur Ami and the frankly idiotic You, Me and Dupree, amp up the hangdog charisma of the leading men and you've pretty much bottled I Love You, Man. It is a frantic hodge-podge of leftovers from other male bonding comedies, mixed with some sincere affection for what we'd miss if us blokes didn't have friends to bang heads against.

Peter (Paul Rudd) is getting ready to marry his long term girlfriend Zooey, but realises he has no friend close enough to call his best man. He gets on fine with women, but there's definitely something missing. After a string of disastrous "man-date" efforts to make friends, he meets man-child Sydney (Jason Segel) during an open house realty sales pitch.

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He's unabashedly there for the excellent nosh and capable of reading body language like a pro. I have friends like this guy. I wouldn't want to imagine being without them. Completely open and up for a laugh, he's like Red Dwarf's Dave Lister, albeit 40 IQ points higher, wiser and without the curry stains. Watching them bond is a delight.

Indeed, I Love You, Man is structured in the mould of a Hollywood romantic comedy and, like the recent Pineapple Express, needs only physical intimacy between the leading men to turn it into a gay parable. Their relationship is so strong, it puts the rest of the gifted comic cast in the shade. They all have their turn - J.K. Simmons, as Peter's father, and John Favreau and Jaime Pressley as an insufferable married couple - but never outshine the central pair. Even Lou Ferrigno, as a real-estate client about to fire Peter, has two very funny scenes, but doesn't anyone ever ask why people would want to "buy a mansion in Beverly Hills with a statue of the Incredible Hulk in the garden?"

There are a hundred different narrative traps the film could have fallen into, but, through careful writing and skilled direction, it avoids them, even as we reckon the obligatory plotting is just around the corner. Key to this is casting. Rudd, so long a backup player capable of stealing scenes from leading men in any number of Apatow-bred movies, emerges as a fabulous comedy headliner. Whenever required to make an effort to be cool, he plays with inspired comic timing - watch his attempt at deliberately misspeaking phrases fall flat on its arse, or bartering the audience with cringe-worthy charm. Segel is a fabulously pleasuremongering foil to the repressed wet blanket Rudd, and his scenes are a pleasure.

It is as unoriginal as movies get and quite stunningly immature at times. Dog poo jokes aren't funny - they never have been and never will be - but there's a strong mixture of bodily function slapstick, like that old chestnut, firehose vomiting, and good old fashioned observational humour. I Love You, Man recycles the clich├ęs very well indeed.

Ultimately, I felt really good watching it. That is all I expect from my comedies.

Reviewed on: 21 Apr 2009
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Repressed bloke needs a best man, but finds his best friend.
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Director: John Hamburg

Writer: John Hamburg, Larry Levin

Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Sarah Burns, Greg Levine, Jaime Pressly, Jon Favreau, Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg, Jean Villepique, Rob Huebel, Colleen Crabtree, Kym Whitley, Caroline Farah, Mather Zickel

Year: 2009

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA

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