Monday, January 24, 2011

I Love You, Man (Film Review)

I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man is a generally clever and sometimes very funny inversion of the romantic comedy genre. There have been movies about bromances before (Superbad is a well-known recent example), but I’m not aware of one that so gleefully embraces bromantic comedy-hood. The writers have a lot of fun taking very familiar tropes and clichés from more standard romcoms and plugging them into a bromantic context. There’s the “meet-cute”, the friend jealous of the relationship (in this case, of course, it’s Paul Rudd’s fiancée, not a male friend), the awkward meeting with the parents, and dozens more.

Most of this is handled quite well, and both Paul Rudd’s Peter and his bromantic interest Sydney are very funny and sometimes hilarious (I especially enjoyed Sydney naming his dog Anwar Sadat because he thought the dog resembled the Egyptian lead. It did). Andy Samberg also gets a number of laughs as Peter’s gay brother, who prefers pursuing straight men because it’s more challenging. Most of the other subplots/characters are more hit-and-miss (like the underused if gorgeous Rashida Jones as Peter’s fiancée Zooey), but overall it’s a funny movie, if not quite a hilarious one.

There’s only one real misfire, which predictably comes from the most annoying of the romcom tropes: the third act complication. Invariably in the formulaic romantic comedies, something bad happens towards the end of the movie that threatens to break up the new couple, before they overcome it to live happily ever after. It’s almost always forced and dumb, and so too is it here. Fortunately it’s resolved relatively quickly, but it still left a bit of a blemish on an otherwise enjoyable movie.

Plot summary (link to source here): Peter (Rudd) is one of those guys who forms more lasting relationships with women than men. Hence, when his fiancée, Zooey (Rashida Jones), wonders who's going to be his Best Man, Peter can't answer her. There are candidates, such as his father (J.K.Simmons) and brother (Andy Samberg), but there's no one outside of his family. So Peter tries to acquire a new platonic partner the way many people find sexual partners - by "dating," except these are "man dates," not romantic liaisons. They also don't work. But, just as Peter is giving up, a chance encounter brings him into contact with Sydney (Jason Segel), and it's male bonding at first sight. Sydney shows Peter his "man cave," the two spend hours on end jamming to Rush songs, they go to a Rush concert, they make up pet names for each other, and they cut work to hang out. But there's a problem for Peter - he's spending so much time with Sydney that Zooey is starting to feel neglected and the wedding is soon on shaky ground.

Overall an enjoyable and funny subversion of a very tired genre. (I’m tired of it, and I’ve only mostly seen advertisements; I’ve really only seen three or four real formula romcoms).

6.5/10 Okay/Good (although it’s very close to being an unqualified 7)

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