Friday, March 27, 2009

I Love You, Man

The bromantic comedy will be remembered as one of the biggest genres of the noughts, and John Hamburg's I Love You, Man may not be the best of them, but it is very funny, and pokes fun at the homoerotic implications of the genre itself. Paul Rudd is Peter Klaven, a man engaged to be married to love-of-his-life Zooey, but there's one problem- he doesn't have any male friends to be groomsmen, or even a Best Man.
So instead of your typical rom-com where the lead seeks members of the opposite sex to bond with, he goes on man-dates, and tries to befriend someone in time for his wedding. See, Peter's always been one of those guys who made friends with women more easily. Now, I was raised in a household with 3 women and no other men, but I've always found that anyone who doesn't have any friends of their own sex has some sort of issue; we never find out what Peter's might be, but Rudd plays him against his usual smart-ass, sharp-witted type as a sensitive nebbish whose favorite day ever eas when he and Zooey made a summer salad and watched Chocolat.
This makes him a hard sell as a friend to the average guy; as expected, one of his man-dates gets mistaken as a gay romantic interlude. In fact, the movie, and Peter's character, reminded me a lot of In & Out, Frank Oz's coming-out comedy with Kevin Kline. John Hamburg also wrote the Meet the Parents soon-to-be trilogy, and Along Came Polly; the script isn't quite perfect, but it didn't remind me of any of those films, and that's a very good thing. He teamed up with Larry Levin, writer of the Dr. DoLittle movies, for the screenplay, and it's rather amazing that something this good came of the coupling.
Peter tries to befriend his fiance's girlfriends' husbands, and Jon Favreau is great as the dickish typical hubby- he has a "Guy's night" of poker, sports and beer-chugging games that he invites Peter to; you can imagine how that goes, when Pete's more comfortable making root beer floats with chocolate straws for Zooey's girlfriends. When all seems lost, he meets Sydney Fife- Jason Segel from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (full review)- a scruffy, blunt and in-your-face kinda guy who shows up the open house for Lou Ferrigno's home, that Peter's trying to sell. Sydney's only there for the free food, but he helps Pete read some guy body language to see who's a serious buyer, and who's there to impress girl. And who's doing the one cheek sneak, hiding a fart.
I liked Segel in Marshall, which he also wrote- and he sort of steals the show here, since Rudd isn't allowed his usual snappy banter. Rudd is still quite good, and it was wise to break stereotype, but Firecracker, a big fan, was disappointed with the character. He's the straight man (though that's sometimes ambiguous) so the rest of the cast gets most of the good lines, which there are many. The movie has a slow start, but stick with it; once Segel shows up, the comic energy is pumped to a higher level, and Rudd has more chance to shine as he loosens up and becomes a man's man. They bond over a love of Rush, start a two-man band, and his friendship starts interfering with the upcoming marriage, of course.
The story doesn't come to a perfect conclusion, but there are plenty of laughs along the way. Lou Ferrigno has a big cameo, which I liked a lot. Lou doesn't get a lot of work these days, and it was nice to see him play himself. I met him at NYC Comicon this year, when he was in the autograph line for 5+ hours. Not the best circumstances, but I've had a soft spot since liking the Hulk as a kid, and then seeing Pumping Iron as an adult. There's a battle with an aggressive real estate agent at Peter's job, and family fun with Dad (J.K. Simmons from Juno, Oz, and Spider-Man's Jonah Jameson) and Andy Samberg (Hot Rod, SNL) as Peter's gay brother. The supporting cast are all really good, and help hold Rudd up as he deviates from his tried and true wit to a straight-man.
I think what I liked best was that this is the most bromantic of the bro-coms, and can only be topped with a gay rom-com like Jeffrey. Maybe it's time the bromances calm down a bit, and just become comedies; us 30-something nerdy bachelors have enough movies to make us feel special.

Rating: 3.5 brossieres out of 5

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