I Love You, Man (DreamWorks SKG, R)

iloveyouman-header.jpgAlthough I like the plot and love the cast, the script’s trajectory is a lot dumber than I would have liked, which really hurts the movie.

 

 

Jason Segel and Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man. 

In a subversive vein similar to that of 2006’s Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston vehicle The Break-Up comes John Hamburg’s I Love You, Man. Where The Break-Up appealed to cynics and romantics alike being a break-up comedy structured as a romantic comedy, I Love You, Man is a buddy comedy structured as a romantic comedy, so males and females will both be clamoring to see it. (It’s being marketed as a "bromantic comedy," which unlike most publicity I like and agree with.)

The main character of I Love You, Man is Paul Rudd’s Peter Klaven, an effeminate (but straight) man who is engaged to the wonderful Zooey (Rashida Jones, a/k/a Karen from The Office), whose only reservation about marrying Peter is his complete and utter lack of male friends. So, Peter sets out on a quest to make some friends—mostly in the ways that people go about making non-platonic friends—until he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), upon whom he gets a heterosexual male crush, which Zooey then feels threatened by.

Although I like the plot and love the cast—really, Segel, Jones, and Rudd could be in about every movie that came out and I’d be happy, and there’s some funny supporting work from Jon Favreau (best known as an actor for Swingers, but also the fellow who directed last year’s Iron Man), J.K. Simmons, and Andy Samberg—the script’s trajectory is a lot dumber than I would have liked, which really hurts the movie.

For example, Sydney doesn’t make his first appearance in the movie until maybe a third of the way through. This makes sense narratively, but the film is very dry and boring until he shows up. By nature, Sydney is a really fun character, and of all of the actors in the film that I said I like, Segel is by far my favorite. Watching the film, though, you can’t help but think that the producers were really, really pushing for someone like Dane Cook to take the Sydney role (and no, Judd Apatow’s not a producer on this one, though it seems like he would be); that’s what kind of film it is. It seems easy to blame co-writer/director John Hamburg for this (Hamburg’s best-known writer/director gig up until now is 2004’s poopedy Along Came Polly), but, while Hamburg can be blamed for a script that doesn’t live up to its potential, I’d be willing to bet he was a deciding factor in the casting of Segel, which essentially saved the film—Hamburg directed Segel in a couple of episodes of Undeclared several years back, and Segel steals every scene he’s in in that show. Let’s not forget that before the release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall no one wanted to touch Segel for years; now he’s following the Seth Rogen path to stardom.

As it stands, I Love You, Man is pretty fun, and I wouldn’t try to talk people out of seeing it. It even seems pretty likely that upon its DVD release I’ll buy it and then watch it happily in the middle of the night a few times. Still, given the funny idea and fantastic cast, it’s hard to not wish that it was a little stronger. | Pete Timmermann

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