I Love You, Man
April 7, 2009 by Zack
A girl I was dating once told me she was concerned with a friendship I had with another guy because she was suspicious of how close we were. She didn’t understand that he and I were “like soul-mates”. Not that you should ever tell a lady friend of any kind something like this, mind you–you’re really asking for trouble; but, you know, I was young and stupid. She took it the wrong way. She thought I might have homosexual leanings. But it was nothing like that at all. Put it up on the chalkboard: We don’t understand women, and women don’t understand men. But it’s not really the whole “what they’re thinking” bit that’s all that complicated. It’s just that we don’t want to see eye to eye a lot of times. It’s uncomfortable, and that’s out of fear. She might have had every right to think what she did since I didn’t explain it to her. I might have had every right to think she was being a child for simplifying it so much.
The essence of this situation is why “I Love You, Man” may be my favorite romantic (or I guess I should say, “bromantic”) comedy of the 21st century. It takes that very awkward balance of having a passionate, caring, and deep relationship with a woman along with having a platonic, caring, and deep relationship with a man. It begins with Peter Klaven (played deliciously unstable and weird by Paul Rudd) who has little to no guy friends, because he’s always been a “girlfriend guy”, as he’s called by his girlfriend, whom he’s just proposed to (she said yes). Zooey, played wonderfully by Rashida Jones (“The Office”, “Freaks & Geeks”), is concerned that Peter has no Best Man for their wedding. Peter goes to his gay brother, who knows even more about straight men than gay men (wouldncha know?) who tells him to set up a series of “man-dates” in order to find his guy mate so he can have a Best Man.
Predictably, the film progresses into a sort of parallel universe of romantic vernacular when Peter meets Sydney Fife at one of his open houses (he’s a real estate agent trying to sell Lou Ferrigno’s house), and the two hit it off almost immediately. Sydney, played by Jason Segel in possibly my favorite character for him since Nick on “Freaks & Geeks”, is a laid back guy who is a man’s man, and is the perfect “fit” for Peter. The two of them start seeing so much of each other, in fact, that Zooey gets a bit worried that she’s “losing him”. Not to homosexuality, mind you, the film is smart enough not to devolve itself into a “Hey Let’s Do Gay Comedy!” onslaught; rather, she just thinks she’s losing the man she’s going to marry because he’s developed a friendship with someone else. But Sydney does a few things that upset the chemistry, and the two have a falling out, and Peter is left again with no broheim for his wedding.
But bromantic comedies are just like romantic comedies so I think you know how it all ends. Everybody dies!
No, okay. Anyway, the film really does deliver and it clicks on all cylinders, having fun with itself while also telling a very honest tale about love and friendship and all of that sugary sweet stuff that these movies are made of. But it has enough of that raunchy twist to make it workable and not something guys would want to steer clear of. In fact, I think a lot of guys could relate to this movie just as much as a girl could. Maybe this is the one movie that brings us all together?
All right, let’s move on. The film features other great performances, too, such as the always hilarious and sexy Jaime Pressly as the best friend of Zooey. Her husband, played by Jon Favreau, is a treat as an angry, scoffing malcontent who likes playing poker and mostly hates everyone else, especially Peter (for a reason I won’t give away but it’s somewhat understandable). Thomas Lennon gives an amusing performance as one of the failed man-dates, as does his former “The State” mate, Joe Lo Truglio. And of course, J. K. Simmons can never do wrong, and he delivers an understated funny performance as Peter’s dad.
As you can tell I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, and although it does have some scenes that you will have to accept as simply characters being just that (Slapping the bass, for instance), for me it never lost itself as some recent comedies have (ahem, “Pineapple Express”) and never forgets the heart of the matter. It’s a fun movie, and it’s a much needed get-away movie when you just need two hours to escape.