I Love You, Man
“Home of the brave, you jackass!! Home. Of. The. Brave!!!”

Theatrical Release Date: 03/20/2009
Director: John Hamburg
Cast: Paul Rudd, Rashida Jones, Jason Segel, Sarah Burns, Jaime Pressly, Jon Favreau, Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg, Joe Lo Truglio

There are people who think that Judd Apatow has his hands on too many comedies these days and want to see other people get into the mix. The sad truth is that aside from some independent films that have no big marketing machines to get the word out, mainstream comedies without the Apatow touch tend to fall short and that’s just the case with “I Love You, Man”.

In the film, Paul Rudd plays a man about to get married. The only hitch is that he’s never had any close male friends and it’s time he does something about it. He then goes on “man dates” to find a best friend and hilarity is supposed to ensue.

In the film’s favor is a strong supporting cast, boasting a bevy of comically gifted actors (that sounds wrong … oh well). They make the most of the screen time their characters must fight for in relation to the leads and kept me from completely tuning out on the picture. Lou Ferrigno in particular must be given his due credit for allowing the filmmakers to ridicule his previous work as the Incredible Hulk.

I did enjoy Rudd’s performance here but as much as it pains me to say so, it’s the exact same character he’s played in about the last five films. I still like it and will gladly see whatever vehicle he’s attached to next … but it’d be nice to see a little more variety. Much of the humor in the film derives from his awkward but lovable inability to establish relationships with other men. Rudd perfectly embodies that notion but more often than not, that uncomfortable feeling urging me to look away won out over the desire to laugh.

As I write this review, I’m beginning to become less and less satisfied with what just flittered across the screen so before I write a senior thesis, I’ll boil it down to the two main issues with the film that hold it back from being worthy of much praise. First of all, the pacing of the film is sort of like a car running out of gas – all stops and starts. As the story drifts between Rudd’s relationship with his fiancée and his newfound best friend, the energy level of the picture waxes and wanes. I blame this largely on the script and director, neither of which did much to impress me, but also I point my finger squarely at the co-star playing the best friend, Jason Segel.

Sure, I enjoyed “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” but the key difference there is the dynamic between the leads. In that film, Segel was the straight man to Russell Brand’s wild and outspoken bon vivant. With “I Love You, Man”, both Rudd and Segel are straight men, deadpanning their way through the jokes. Rudd is a master of this, stamping his career with similar performances (“Role Models” had Stifler to balance the dynamic). Segel just rubs me the wrong way though and without a clear difference to their approaches in the film, I found many of their interactions lackluster and lifeless.

Still, while I won’t be anxiously awaiting the DVD release to get a second look, I did enjoy a few laughs and appreciated most of the supporting cast’s performances. I was hoping for more but a 3 out of 5 is all I can give “I Love You, Man” (and even that may be a little too generous). I wouldn’t pay full price but if you’re looking for a film that won’t tie up too many of your neurons a matinee show might be worth the effort (though with “Role Models” now on DVD, that’s the clearly better comedy to check out if you’re a Paul Rudd fan).