This weekend’s Videogum Movie Club selection, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel’s I Love You, Man, came in second at the box office to Nicolas Cage’s Knowing (though it still did pretty well.) How is Hollywood supposed to take America seriously with outcomes like that? (JK!) I don’t read or put any stock in movie reviews prior to seeing movies I want to see, but Rotten Tomatoes usually gives an inkling: I Love You, Man: 81%. Knowing: 25%. Weather report: Americans are still dumb.
So, some of us saw I Love You, Man this weekend. Let’s start with the things that were wrong with it.
1. The Entire Premise:
Peter Klaven doesn’t have any close male friends because he moved around a lot as a kid and was always too focused on his (many) girlfriends to sustain male friendships, so he goes on the hunt for a best man for his wedding.
Okay, that’s ridiculous. For one, it’s hard to imagine a guy without friends (because the movie mentions no female friends, either) being able to get all these girlfriends in the first place. Everyone needs friends. Friends are the most fun people in our lives. This is editorializing, but my life would be a living hell without both female and male friends. In the girl-culture world, there’s a total stereotype of the woman who has no female friends, but it’s because she’s a c-word who has been universally rejected by her own gender (and doesn’t help her case by loudly and constantly attributing her lack of female companionship to a mysterious ethereal phenomenon we’re all supposed to realize is her intolerable hotness.) It’s possible, and even likely, that there’s a male version of that archetypal c-word running around out there, but Peter Klaven isn’t it. (Peter’s co-worker, Tevin, played hysterically by a fearless Rob Huebel, could very well be it, however.)
Also, Peter is close (enough) to his father (J.K. Simmons) and brother (Andy Samberg) that they could be his only best men and that would be fine and normal.
So, yeah, the premise is less-than-totally-believable…but still more believable than a man who puts on makeup and terrorizes a city just because he loves chaos. So STFU about the premise. This is a comedy, people.
The premise of I Love You, Man is just about the only thing wrong with it. So now, on to the good stuff!
1. Paul Rudd
Seriously, Paul Rudd in this movie? Transcendent. He is does opposite of phoning it in. He comes over to your house, knocks on your door, and when you don’t open it goes and finds the hide-a-key under the rock and let’s himself in and surprises you with breakfast in bed. In what could have been (and what seems like, from the trailer), a total straight-man role, Paul Rudd brings sneaky depth and three-dimensionality. If you read this site regularly, you might know about my thing where I go all swooning middle-aged cat lady over Paul Rudd, so it’s a testament to his performance that I HAVE NEVER FOUND PAUL RUDD LESS ATTRACTIVE than in this movie. As I left the theater, I had to remind myself of why I found him so attractive in the first place:
Whew! There we go. Anyway, seeing Paul Rudd subtly play a total sad-sack pussy-boy who learns that he’s a likable guy after all is one of the joys of this movie. It’s called RANGE.
2. Jason Segel
Jason Segel is hilarious as “investment consultant” Sydney Fife who only dates cougars and exudes an air of danger (the fact that Jason Segel can exude any danger is a testament to his own range in this movie.) He teaches Paul Rudd how to be a dude in a way that’s simultaneously hilarious (the “jerk-off station”) and sweet. That guy has SO forgotten Sarah Marshall.
3. The Subversion Of The Romantic Comedy Genre:
It’s one of the movie’s gimmicks that it’s a romantic comedy about two men, but somehow, the gimmick works: from the inevitable “falling in love montage” (the first funny one since The Naked Gun) to the “rushing back into each other’s arms” scene, the filmmakers found a funny (and interesting) way to shake up the genre. I was expecting the last quarter of the movie to drag the way it does with regular romantic comedies, but nope: they plowed through all the coming-apart, moping, and coming-back-together stuff so fast that when it was over, you barely even noticed because you were laughing the whole time (often at Jon Favreau.)
Also, Rashida Jones was adorable with her little ironic baby tees (she had as little to do in this movie as the male fiances in Bride Wars, but that was sort of the point.)
As we left the theater, the male friend I saw the movie with, when asked, summed it up thusly: “It was better than I thought it would be. It was actually better than Role Models.” Yep.