At the center of I Love You, Man is a good idea for a contemporary comedy: it's essentially a romantic comedy between two new friends -- adult males unable to connect in a city (Los Angeles) and technology-driven age where making connections has become increasingly difficult. That it stars Paul Rudd of Role Models and Jason Segel of Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- arguably the two best comedies of 2008 -- makes it that much more appealing. And while there's a lot to like about I Love You, Man, I'd be lying if I said it fully delivered on its major promise. It's merely good when it should be great.
Rudd stars as Peter Klaven, a very nice and newly-engaged guy (to the lovely Rashida Jones, no less) who feels a little insecure about the fact that he has no real male friends. With his wedding coming up, he realizes there's no one to stand up for him. So, he goes on a series of "man-dates" to find friendship, eventually meeting the free-spirited Sydney (Segel), who lives his life in almost direct opposition to Peter. Still, the two hit it off and become fast friends -- so much so that their newfound closeness begins to threaten Peter's relationship with his fiancee.
Undone by Formula
When I Love You, Man is working, it really works; Paul Rudd has an incredible way of finding new ways to be funny (compare the endlessly sweet, goofy Peter with his angry, acrid role in last year's Role Models), and the scenes of him goofing around with Segel are terrific. It's only when writer/director John Hamburg feels the need to force a conventional plot (with misunderstandings and break-up/make-ups galore) onto the film that it suffers. That's too bad, because the very premise of his film is about twisting convention. Why, then, does he insist on so much of the film being so ordinary? And don't get me started on the jokes that misfire -- chiefly, one of cinema's most embarrassing, tone-deaf puke jokes; the effects alone should have gotten this gag cut, not to mention how out of place it is in a film that finds humor in character and dialogue instead of bodily functions.
As a comedy fan, one of the best things about I Love You, Man is spotting all the comedians filling out smaller roles in the film: SNL's Andy Samberg plays Rudd's brother; Jane Curtain plays his mother; Thomas Lennon and Joe Lo Truglio (both of The State) appear, as do Human Giant's Rob Huebel and Aziz Ansari; Nick Kroll, Jay Chandrasekhar (of Broken Lizard), Jerry Minor, Larry Wilmore and Melissa Rauch are among the familiar comedy faces to show up in the film.
Though I Love You, Man comes out uneven at best, the DVD of the film features a lot of extra comedy that makes it totally worth recommending. There are deleted and extended scenes with extra character beats and some funny moments. There's a standard gag reel that's funnier than most, likely because it involves such funny people. Additionally, there's a collection of outtakes and alternate jokes that's pretty terrific; it's great to watch guys like Paul Rudd and Rob Heubel improvise lines that are just as funny as anything that made the final cut. A montage of words and phrases made up by Rudd (including the now-famous "jobin" and "totes magotes") is almost worth the price of the DVD alone.
The best bonus feature on the I Love You, Man DVD is a commentary track by writer/director John Hamburg and stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Hamburg does his best to keep things informative, but Rudd and Segel are constantly chiming in with funny one-liners; they have the same kind of star power and easy chemistry that make the movie enjoyable. If spending time with these two actors is the reason to see I Love You, Man, then consider the commentary track as a bonus two hours.
Though I wanted to like I Love You, Man more than I did, it's still a movie worth checking out. The cast is first-rate and when it finds small, subtle ways to be funny, it's excellent. There's not enough of what makes it good and I wish the movie had taken more chances, but it's far from a waste of time. If nothing else, it's got Paul Rudd in it, and any movie with Paul Rudd is worth seeing. Seriously.
- Release Date: 8/11/09
- Running Time: 104 minutes
- 1.85 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
- Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
- Rated R
- Studio: Dreamworks
DVD Bonus Features
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Making-of Featurette
- Commentary by writer/director John Hamburg, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel