I Love You, Man (2009): ***½
Directed by John Hamburg
I really think this movie is a hoot, and I might enjoy it far more
than some people because it is a very personal film for me. You
see, in this movie Paul Rudd basically plays a (slightly) more awkward
I, like Rudd's Peter Klaven, have always been more comfortable
around women than men. I do not feel comfortable around grownup
men. I do not feel comfortable being aggressive or intense or swapping
sex stories or talking about sportsball games or other things that
"guys" do around each other. The difference between me
and Peter is that I'm fine around guys who don't act like "guys."
Peter is just taken a bit more to the extreme. He's the kind of
guy who is a serial relationship guy. He pours all of his energy
into whatever romantic relationship he's currently in to the point
of not being able to develop friendships outside of that relationship.
He's friends with his girlfriends' friends. But once he breaks up
with his girlfriend, then her friends, well, they're not really
his friends anymore, are they?
But now finally Peter has met "the one," and she actually
encourages him to go out and get friends of his own. But how?
This movie hinges pretty much entirely on two performances that
walk razor edges. Paul Rudd exudes enough awkwardness to be hilarious
(his frequent and incredibly lame attempts to come up with nicknames
are all brilliant), but is at the same time lovable enough so that
you actually like and root for him instead of wanting to shun him
for being an annoying pest. He's a really good-hearted guy who just
has no idea what he's doing but plugs along anyway, so he's got
that underdog appeal going for him. Jason Segel as Sydney Fife,
the man Peter eventually befriends, walks an even more delicate
line between being an awesomely fun person you'd want to hang out
with and an irresponsible asshole you want to punch in the face.
Or put in a sleeper hold. His character's honesty and easy-going
confidence are like a breath of fresh air compared to most of the
aggressive "guys" around.
These characters are joyfully given room to breathe and develop.
They're not just in the service of the plot because, well, what
plot? It's a movie about two guys becoming friends, so it's basically
a series of scenes about them hanging out and getting to know each
other and affecting each others' lives. Sure, there are story beats
in the movie, but they're allowed to develop organically out of
the characters' interactions so nothing at all in the movie seems
forced. These guys seem like real people. A little cartoony at times,
but who am I to talk? I randomly speak in foreign accents without
realizing I'm doing it. A little touch of cartooniness just makes
them seem more realistic to me.
It also gives a lot of room for the supporting cast to act out
around these solid anchor characters. Jon Favreau is horrifying
and hilarious as one of Peter's fiancee's friend's (played by Jaime
Pressley herself) husband, who is an overweight, aggressive, asshole.
Thomas Lennon plays a man who wants to be more than friends with
Peter. Jane Curtin and J.K. Simmons play Peter's parents, and Andy
Samberg plays his gay brother who is bored with gay men and has
moved on to seducing straight men with astonishing success. Lou
Ferigno plays himself. There are cameos by David Krumholtz and Rush.
The band. Who actually play a very important part of the story.
And just look at that leprechaun slap-a da bass, mon! You'll see.
I'm tellin ya, Paul Rudd plays me in this movie.