I Love You, Man
August 7, 2009
Thanks to the success of Judd Apatow comedies, many of the actors in his unofficial repertory company have parlayed their memorable supporting roles into starring turns in their own films. Case in point: Paul Rudd (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Jason Segel (Knocked Up) are certainly no strangers to Apatow’s films and, in Rudd’s case, had a pretty good career before hooking up with Apatow. Now, they get to be the stars of their own film, I Love You, Man (2009), which capitalizes on the “bromance” craze, a term which has hopefully reached its expiration date.
Peter (Rudd) and Zooey (Jones) have recently gotten engaged. She immediately tells all of her girlfriends while he tells his folks. After having dinner with them, Peter realizes that he doesn’t have any real guy friends and certainly not a best friend that could be the best man at his wedding. He enlists his gay brother Robbie (Samberg) to set him up on some man dates, tries the Internet and hangs out with some of the husbands of his wife’s friends, all with no success. While trying to sell Lou Ferrigno’s house, Peter meets Sydney (Segel) who seems like a cool guy and they hit it off. A week later they meet up for a drinks and bond over fish tacos. Sydney gets Peter to come out of his shell and get in touch with his inner Alpha male. He also gets him to open up about his sex life and loosen up in general.
Paul Rudd has played nebbish, mild-mannered characters before with Knocked Up (2007), but he raises it to a whole new level with this character. Having never really had a best friend like Sydney before, Peter’s not sure how to act and comes off as uptight as he desperately tries to impress him. Rudd does such a good job of being socially awkward that some of the scenes where he tries to act cool are almost painful to watch.
Jason Segel is a versatile actor capable of playing extroverted characters (Knocked Up) and introverted ones (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and with Sydney he plays a bit of both. At times, he seems like a cool, laid-back kind of guy but he’s also quick-tempered too. Sydney is extremely patient in drawing Peter out of his shell and one keeps wondering if this guy is too good to be true but fortunately the film doesn’t try to pull the rug out from under us in that respect.
Andy Samberg’s gay brother bucks the traditional Hollywood stereotype of being flamboyantly effeminate in favor of pulling it back and showing restraint. Robbie is Peter’s brother who also happens to be gay. It is so refreshing to see a comedian refusing to go for the obvious, scenery-chewing shtick in favor of subtlety. Samberg gets laughs from his understated, dry sense of humor and is one the primary reasons that I Love You, Man is so much fun to watch.
John Hamburg directed the much-maligned Along Came Polly (2004), which I actually enjoyed if only for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s scene-stealing performance, but the director has much better material to work with on I Love You, Man. The result is a very entertaining, highly enjoyable comedy that actually assumes the audience has some intelligence while also providing the requisite gross-out gags but doesn’t overdo them (thankfully).
There is an audio commentary by director John Hamburg and actors Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. The three guys joke and banter with each other like old friends while heaping a lot of praise on their cast-mates as this track veers into a shameless love fest at times. They also point out acquaintances and crew members who have small roles in the film. They do tell some amusing filming anecdotes which somewhat salvages this commentary.
“The Making of I Love You, Man” is pretty standard press kit material as key cast and crew members talk about the characters and the film’s plot. There are plenty of clips from the film along with behind-the-scenes footage.
“Extras” features 22 minutes of outtakes as we see the actors improvise various takes for a given scene that is pretty funny, especially whenever Paul Rudd is involved as he comes up with some amusing variations on dialogue.
Also included are six extended scenes that feature the cast riffing beyond what we saw in the film.
There are three deleted scenes which feature Peter going on a man date where he plays a game of rugby and gets injured. There is a scene where Peter and his brother talk about man crushes and friend sluts over bowling. And we see The State’s David Wain as a wedding photographer getting Peter and his friends to do some silly poses.
Finally, there is a pretty funny gag real as cast and crew goof around on the set between and during takes. They also take pleasure in making each other crack up.