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Friday
Mar202009

I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man is a perfect example of why you should never leave a film early. You never know when it might pick up and surprise you. What started as a film that I was sure I was going to hate ended up being a funny, clever little comedy that eventually won me over.

The movie follows Peter (Paul Rudd), who has just been engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones). While preparing for the big day, Peter realizes that he doesn't actually have any real friends. Who will be his best man? So Zooey, along with his brother, hook him up on a series of man-dates hoping he will create a meaningful friendship. Along the way, Peter meets Sydney (Jason Segel) and they instantly bond. Although Peter is a shy, private person, Sydney brings the "man" out of him, helps him open up and becomes his first true pal.

Like I said, I was certain that this was going to be a movie I loathed. Believe it or not, this film was incredibly unfunny for the first 20 to 30 minutes. This was before Jason Segel was introduced. While the beginning serves a narrative purpose, to expose Peter as a pathetic loser with no friends, the fact of the matter is that it's boring. I didn't laugh once, the story was uninteresting and Peter's personality annoyed me beyond belief. This movie shines when Rudd and Segel are together. This poor start is merely foreplay leading up to the main event.

And like actual foreplay, you can't wait to get it out of the way and start having some real fun. From the 30 minute mark on, I was laughing a lot, and surprisingly so. Considering how low my opinion of the film was at the beginning, it was shocking to see it ascend to a level where I had forgiven its boring opening and began appreciating its positives.

Still, some of the jokes are tired. For example, one big laugh I Love You, Man received from the audience I was watching it with was a puke scene. Peter has too much to drink and pukes in another character's face. Really? How many times have we seen a comedy where a drunk person barfs on someone else? How quaint.

Another problem I had with some of the humor is that the filmmakers apparently thought awkwardness would always amount to laughs. If this movie taught me anything, it's that "awkward" does not always equal "funny." Instead, it was just that, gawky and annoying. It was painful to watch and not funny. I understand that the awkwardness is a key component because it is a part of Rudd's character and one of the foundations of the story, but the film built up that awkwardness all the way to the end, so much so that it lost any punch it had, which was very little to begin with.

So not all of the jokes hit their mark. Despite that, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are terrific. Yes, I found Rudd's uncouth character to be somewhat of an annoyance at times, but it was still a very good performance. Segel is just as good, playing the overweight slob who speaks his mind and doesn't give a damn about what people think of him. The two are excellent together and have perfect comedic chemistry.

These great performances helped the story as well. I loved the bro-mance the film was playing up and surprisingly, it's actually kind of sweet, in a weird, masculine way. But the movie was also smart to explore what happens to a romantic relationship when a friendship becomes the center of your partner's life. Peter and his fiancé aren't perfect and do get jealous. His friendship with Sydney causes real tension between the couple and I appreciated the attempt at exploring every angle of how these events would play out in real life.

Overall, I have to give this movie credit for its surprising amount of depth and for the way it pulled itself out of a painfully unfunny slump to become a film that I now hold great admiration for. It's not a comedic masterpiece by any means though. It even repeats certain jokes (it makes three pubic hair cracks--zero are funny). But I Love You, Man is a good movie that you should definitely see. Just be sure to keep your expectations in check.

I Love You, Man receives 3.5/5

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