Tuesday, March 17, 2009

REVIEW: I Love You, Man...

In the world that we like to call Hollywood, there are some actors or actresses that you can call the go-to actor for a specific subject. Action has Jason Statham, RomComs have Renee Zellwegger, and bad mainstream comedies have Steve Carell. Well, for me, the go to actor for comedies is Paul Rudd. From early films like Wet Hot American Summer, to newer movies like Role Models, everything about the guy just really works for me. Add Jason Segel, and you have a sure fire hit, right? Maybe.

I Love You, Man follows Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a successful real estate agent who, upon getting engaged to the woman of his dreams, Zooey, (Rashida Jones), discovers that he has no male friend close enough to be his Best Man. Peter immediately sets out to fix the situation, embarking on a series of bizarre and awkward man-dates, before meeting Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a charming, opinionated man with whom he instantly bonds. But the closer the two men get, the more Peters relationship with Zooey suffers, ultimately forcing him to choose between his fiancee and his new brah.

Wow, that sounds like a great plot right? Yeah, it is, but for a short film. However, when extended to feature length, the film just seems to kind of fall flat.

Paul Rudd stars as Peter, a socially awkward real estate agent who is bro-less. He stumbles with his words, says the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just comes off a little weird. However, Rudd, while he's funny here, can't really hold this bit through the entire feature. The joke he plays for is funny the first 4000 times, but that 4001st time just comes off as really repetitive and not interesting.

His costar is Jason Segel who plays Sidney, an overconfident, highly opinionated guy who may have his own friend issues, yet is just as repetitive as his costar. His character is so over the top and immature that when he suddenly breaks down near the end, it felt really forced. Rudd and Segel's interchanges are very funny, yet as the film goes on, the jokes become the plot, and that just doesn't account for good comedy.

That may be the films biggest flaw. While comedies are simply there to make the viewer laugh, when there is no story behind the film, it doesn't always work, and feels really forced. The plot simply seemed to be an excuse to have Segel and Rudd hanging out with each other around California. There are no true or satisfying character arcs, and the ending is so completely standard that walking out I was thinking more about what I may see this weekend than what I enjoyed about the film.

The supporting cast of this film is where most of the laughs come from. Rasheeda Jones is so great here as Rudd's fiancee, and brings a sense of truth and reality to this rather simplistic tale. She's the right touch of charm, sweetness and beauty that is was a joy to watch her, especially in her and Rudd's interchanges. There is one scene in particular, where Rudd introduces her to Rush, where it's such a true moment, such a moment that could happen between a couple, that it was my favorite of the film.

This is the new film from John Hamburg, who made Along Came Polly, and the directino here is rather tepid and unstimulating. It's point and shot primarily, which fits for comedies, but just isn't my cup of tea. The cinematography here is pretty standard as well, but the soundtrack to this film may be the best thing. Oh, Andy Samberg and JK Simmons are also both really great.

However, all of this can be sort of taken with a grain of salt, because the merit of a good comedy is the laugh factor, and for the first half of the film, it had me laughing quite a bit. There were a few chuckles near the end, particularly in the scenes involving Jon Favreau and Jamie Kennedy, but not enough to cover for the sheer lack of plot or anything visually stimulating.

That said, the first half is strong enough to warrant a rental. Just nothing more. Go check out Fanboys instead, or rent, no buy, Wet Hot American Summer.

I Love You, Man - 5/10

It gets a 5 because it's half of a good film. Rent it.

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