Monday, August 24, 2009

Home Video: I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man
Directed by John Hamburg
Released March 20, 2009

The latest film from the actors most frequently seen in Judd Apatow’s movies follows the general pattern of the previous features. From the premise and even the trailer from this film, it wouldn’t seem that “I Love You, Man” would include sexually explicit conversations and a generally raunchy tone. Part of the reason for that is that it doesn’t quite fit – this film would work just as well if it wasn’t rated R. The premise itself is entirely simplistic, and so is the movie.

The notion that a man with a wonderful fiancée and pleasant enough life but lacking in male friends would embark on a quest to find a best bud sounds like just the kind of story actors Paul Rudd and Jason Segel would want to tell. Writers John Hamburg and Larry Levin are new to the group, but it makes sense that someone well-versed in the world of “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” would want to make this movie. Apatow didn’t produce this one, but he left it in the hands of the writers behind “Along Came Polly” and “Meet the Parents.” With slightly tamer films on their resumes, it might have made sense to tone this one down accordingly. No such luck, and the awkward middle ground between family-friendly and “40-Year-Old Virgin” doesn’t really work.

All of the previous films like this have starred likeable enough lead characters and relied on a flurry of supporting funnymen to make inappropriate quips and move the story along. The main problem here is Segel, who’s usually the one playing the nice guy (see “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) is saddled with the entire burden of representing all of those supporting stalwarts, and it’s too much for him. He’s certainly funny, but he almost doesn’t seem unlikable in any way, and he really should. Attempts to make him seem crude by outfitting him with gross-out characteristics don’t really work, and when they are effective, they’re not very funny. Along those lines, Paul Rudd isn’t as able a lead as is necessary to carry this film. He’s portrayed as a dorky, fumbling real estate agent – two descriptors that don’t really fit that career bill.

Mainly, the first presents an intriguing story, but there’s not much mystery to it. It’s pretty obvious that Rudd’s character will find a friend, and the other men he meets along the way aren’t very memorable – in fact, only one really remains in the film, and another man-date, which is completely lacking for laughs, ended up on the cutting room floor and can be found on the DVD with other deleted scenes. Basically, it was a fun idea, but there’s really not a whole movie behind it. The main complaint of many who liked but didn’t love movies like “40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” was that they were about 20 minutes too long. In this case, it’s about an hour too much. I paused 45 minutes into it, and couldn’t imagine what would possibly be coming next. It’s decently entertaining and not overly off-putting, but there’s not much motivation to keep watching. Nothing to see here, keep moving along to the next feature from these guys.


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