Wednesday, April 01, 2009
449 - I Love You, Man review
With friends like the protagonist of “I Love You, Man,” who needs friends? Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a nebbish realtor who realizes he has not a single friend to include in his wedding party. Everyone around him, including the fabric of the film itself, frequently postulates that he’s just the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet, but allow me to posit something else: he’s boring. There’s not an admirable trait about him unless you’re a diehard Rush fan or consider infirmity a virtue.
So when twenty minutes or so of movie have gone by and Peter finally finds his “bromance” in the form of Sydney (Jason Segel), I felt sorry for the new guy. It’s not really that I liked him; the film tries desperately to make Sydney Hip and Crazy and Endearing, though the nicest thing we can really say about him is that he is far less dull than Peter. At least Sydney possesses loyalty and the desire to do something other than relentlessly please his fiancé. Some couples attend church for a few months in order to find a minister for their wedding, whereas Peter jams in a garage in order to find a best man. But sincere friendships are acquired naturally, not through angling for them because you want something. Ever been friends with someone who just wants you to do them a solid? You probably don’t remember these people favorably.
And therein lies the central problem of “I Love You, Man.” We’re intended to sympathize with Peter, and the film is structured in a way that doesn’t support enjoyment unless we do. But it’s readily apparent why Peter has no friends, and when he acquires them, we don’t believe he deserves them. Peter never does anything that suggests Sydney would actually waste his time with him, except we know a movie is going on and the script equals the hand of God.
“I Love You, Man” is cloaked in juvenility, fueled by childish assumptions about what actually constitutes friendship and adult behavior. Here, having a close friend means you talk solely about sex and play drinking games to cure boredom. These scenes lend too many notes of fraudulence to an already shaky premise; do you know a lot of upper-middle class men in their forties who participate in weekly drinking games? Do at least half of your conversations revolve around the joys of auto-eroticism? Only if you’re in the movie business, perhaps, and after years of immersion Hollywood tends to forget that most people aren’t.
Posted by James at 4/01/2009 06:05:00 PM