22 March 2009

Film: "I Love You, Man"

I Love You, Man
Directed by John Hamburg
Story by Larry Levin
Screenplay by John Hamburg and Larry Levin
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly
Date of Screening:  20 March 2009
MPAA Rating: R (For Pervasive Language, Including Crude and Sexual References)

Peter Klaven (Rudd) discovers, while planning his wedding to Zooey (Jones), that his serial monogamy has come at the expense of having friends.  He sets out to find at least one male friend in time for the wedding, going on a series of ill-fated "man dates" until he meets Sydney Fife (Segel).  Sydney's man child is the yin to Peter's yang; but is there room for Zooey in this bromance?

The cast is superb, including a terribly entertaining turn by Favreau and Pressly as married friends of Zooey's who are constantly at one another's throats.  There is nothing outrageously memorable (as, say, the pants-stain in Superbad), though it is charming and funny.  This film needs to be seen with a large audience, though; I saw it in a theater where my wife, friend and I comprised about a third of the audience size and the absence of room-filling laughter cheapened the experience.

There are, however, several problems with the film.  For one, it's entirely too long--especially in the first half.  The reason this is the case is that most of the humor hinges on Peter being awkward in his pursuit of a buddy, and this is personified by his spontaneous, nervous habit of inventing absolutely horrible catchphrases and nicknames.  As his friendship with Sydney develops, though, this eventually yields to a more confident (and more normal) way of speaking.

As a premise, it's not bad, except that it is entirely too reminiscient of Kevin James's performance in the TV series King of Queens.  This connection is driven home by a subplot wherein Peter is trying desperately to sell the $4 million home of...Lou Ferrigno.  The film, simply put, could have benefitted from at least one more draft and one more edit.  Too many moments were left in that simply stall the story; in today's DVD world, there is simply no reason to include so many scenes of Rudd stammering into a phone in the theatrical release.

Ultimately, fans of Rudd and Segel will be amused--if not thoroughly roused--by I Love You, Man.  Fans of King of Queens are even likelier to enjoy it.

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