I LOVE YOU, MAN
** (out of 5)
March 20, 2009
Paul Rudd as PETER KLAVEN
Jason Segel as SYDNEY FIFE
Rashida Jones as ZOOEY
Andy Samberg as ROBBIE KLAVEN
J.K. Simmons as OSWALD KLAVEN
Directed by: John Hamburg
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
The new film “I Love You, Man” reminded me of that lukewarm Adam Sandler comedy “Anger Management” from a few years back. While that was a hit at the box office, this is not a compliment.
“Anger Management” was one of those movies that loaded the trailers not just with the best parts of the film, but it laid out the story so well in the 2 1/2 minute summary that I was totally bored with the first half of the film since it just took longer to get to the same place.
With “I Love You, Man,” the best parts are definitely in the trailer. From this, we’ve seen what the movie is about: Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) has just proposed to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones), but he doesn’t have any male friends that could stand up next to him as his best man. He then goes on the search for a best man and finds Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), who bonds with him in a very mannish manner. However, this new found friendship threatens his relationship with his fiancée.
I got all this from the trailer, and I just felt like I was marking time through the movie to find out if anything else might happen. The good news is that there’s a little more to the plot. The bad news is that as a whole, the movie just doesn’t fit together well.
It’s not that I really disliked the concept. Instead, I thought the premise was rather funny. However, there was a distinct feeling that the script was rushed, resulting in a doughy, half-baked film. It’s as if the producers got Jason Segel attached to the movie and made it as fast as possible in order to cash in on his success with “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
There were serious problems with the characters. While I’ve often enjoyed Paul Rudd, his character had no backbone and was the kind of guy that pretty much irritates me in real life. Add to the fact that the characters of Peter and Sydney banter together with lame nick-name pseudo speech that might be funny in a five-minute SNL sketch but grates on the nerves in a 90-minute movie.
There’s also several characters with no focus whatsoever. For example, J.K. Simmons plays Peter’s father. He’s pretty funny when he’s on screen, but they don’t do enough with him in the script. And that’s a shame because no one should waste a good performance by Simmons.
Likewise, Andy Samberg plays Peter’s gay brother who is supposed to be an expert on heterosexual male friendships. It’s not that I’m bothered by a non-stereotypical gay character, but he’s an enigma on the screen. Either he’s a man’s man who knows everything there is to know about heterosexual guys, or he’s a conquest-obsessed gay man who revels in the ability to get married men to play for the other team. Again, this character seems so rushed that they crammed to stereotypes into one which just doesn’t make sense.
Finally, the character of Zooey is about as vapid as a mayonnaise milkshake. Sure Rashida Jones is very easy on the eyes, but her character is just two dimensional, and we really don’t get a sense of whether we should root for her and Peter to stay together or break up. The other supporting characters are pretty decent (with the glaring exception of Lou Ferrigno in the most useless cameo since Scott Baio in “Cursed”), and I wish the movie was about them instead.
Another problem with this movie is something that I rarely have a problem with: the rating. I’ve never been one to complain about language in a movie that gives it a hard-R. However, when it came to “I Love You, Man,” I just didn’t think the language was necessary. It seems like the director just wanted to cash in on the R-rated comedy phase that Hollywood is going through. After all, he grabbed a couple of Judd Apatow’s guys to star in it, so why not just throw in a bunch of f-bombs to catch the right audience.
I’m not one for the PG-13ification of the cinema, but this movie would have been just as funny with that rating. Still, I have to consider myself lucky that the filmmakers didn’t find a way to stick Seth Rogen into the movie.