The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Love You, Man

Ah, here we are again; a review of a mainstream, recent comedy that was successful in theaters, on DVD, and most recently when it finally reached cable channels for an endless stream of repeats and reshowings. The movie is 2009's I Love You, Man. By all accounts, it is a very funny movie with some great laughs, good performances, and even better bit parts and cameos. But as I rewatched the movie recently, all I'm thinking is 'What do I write about? Should I just list all the funny lines that cracked me up?' Eh, I guess I'm a little better than that because otherwise I'd just provide a link to IMDB's Memorable Quotes (which I may end up doing anyway). But anyways, here we go.

This is another of the R-rated comedies that has thankfully breathed some new life into the comedy genre over the last 10 years or so.  Chicago Tribune movie critic/reviewer Michael Phillips has delved into these movies  a lot, many of them coming from director/producer extraordinaire Judd Apatow -- I Love You, Man is not one of those flicks but it certainly feels like one. They are often enough stories about men in their late 20s and early 30s, that middle point in their lives where they're realizing they aren't kids anymore, but they don't quite want to be grown-up either.  They manage to be smart and stupid at the same time, mixing dry humor with more obvious sex jokes and physical humor. However the formula works, it does, and these movies are great for a laugh.

After eight months of dating, real estate agent Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) decides to propose to his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones). She accepts, and they start to plan the wedding, but they both realize a little problem Peter has...he doesn't have a best friend, much less any real guy friends. So not wanting to cause his fiance any embarrassment, Peter goes about finding a best friend, immediately realizing that it's harder than it looks. How do you even go about forming a platonic friendship with a guy? He goes down every avenue presented to him, meeting a lot of different and often enough weird individuals in the process before he meets Sidney Fife (Jason Segel), a single guy about the same age with similar interests. They hit it off, becoming fast friends, but can it end well for the friendless Peter?

The movie's success and its laughs rides on the shoulders of Rudd and Segel, two of the best comedic actors around and two of the funniest comedic actors currently starring in movies.  Rudd does awkward like nobody's business, bringing uncomfortable silences and weird nonsense words and phrases to a whole new level. It's funny watching him bumble through this man-love situation, but it is incredibly uncomfortable at times. Through it all though, there's a likable quality to Peter though so you root for him and feel for his situation. I've liked Segel since his Freaks and Geeks days and like him now in How I Met Your Mother where the sitcom parameters limit him. His Sidney is one of my favorite characters, just a genuinely good dude who has a unique way of living and going about life. Separately, they're great characters, but put them together, and they have this great energy and chemistry throughout.

Watch these movies, and you get a feel for a family-like setting in the making of process.  You see the same faces pop up over and over again, most of them just quick one or two scene appearances that in a lesser movie would seem unnecessary or forced. Here though, they fit in like peanut butter and jelly. J.K. Simmons and Jane Curtin and are perfectly cast as Peter's extremely frank, honest parents with Andy Samberg as his younger brother by eight years, a proud gay man if there ever was one. Jaime Pressly plays Zooey's best friend with Jon Favreau as her less than happy husband. Rob Huebel plays Tevin, Peter's smarmy fellow real estate agent, Thomas Lennon is Doug, one of Pete's failed "man-dates," with many more recognizable faces popping up here and there. In a bad movie, these are parts that could have saved you from the badness.  In a good movie, these are parts that bring the movie to another level.

Most of the humor that works here comes from the little bits, the little touches of reality that ring true. Peter and Sydney bond over their love of rock band Rush, holding epic jam sessions in Sydney's man-cave garage. Peter is trying to sell Lou Ferrigno's house in Venice and is having some trouble getting the job done. Talk about pulling a cameo out of your butt.  Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk? No way that should work, but it's one of the most sublimely perfect cameos ever. In his attempts to be cool, Peter instead kills himself with awkwardness, prompting random nonsense like calling Sydney "Jobin" with other gems like "Totes McGotes," "See you in a jif," "I'll talk to you then or I'll talk to you at another time," highlighting the awkwardness. It's funny though because Sydney goes along with it, embracing it, making it a little far-fetched but still fun to watch. My ramblings aside, I'll add again; this is a truly funny movie.

A huge test for any comedy is quotability. Once that movie is over, can you leave the theater throwing lines back and forth for days on end, and in this case, years later?  I Love You, Man is epically successful in that department. As promised, here is the link to IMDB's Memorable Quotes (read HERE). This is polished, smart and stupid R-rated comedy with a great cast and laughs to burn. You won't be disappointed watching this one if you're looking for a laugh.

I Love You, Man <---trailer (2009): ***/****

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