So continuing the recent run of ‘Just Watched’ features, here we have a film very different from the arty Synecdoche, New York and the unsettling Let The Right One In, the Paul Rudd-led knockabout comedy I Love You, Man.
Set around Rudd’s successful Hollywood estate agent Peter Klaven, the movie’s plot is the classic rom-com turned on its head: rather than being a man’s man who’s looking for a good woman to love, Klaven is engaged to a beautiful woman but has no male friend to be his best man. While trying to sell the mansion of Lou ‘original Hulk’ Ferrigno, Klaven encounters Jason Segel’s enigmatic Sydney Fife, sparking a friendship that could finally give Klaven the best friend he’s never had.
The movie’s central conceit is a clever one, but the plot is not where the strength of this film lies. Rather, it’s the sterling work of Rudd and Segel, not to mention a stellar supporting cast, that drives this film and makes it an enjoyable feature rather than another bad series of gay jokes. Rudd is excellent in the central role and is charmingly awkward while trying to make friends with guys; the series of ‘man-dates’ he goes on are painful to watch at times, as he encounters miscounted homosexuals and overzealous sports fans. Segel’s Fife is a nutter really, someone who goes apeshit at passers-by who ask him to clean up his dog’s crap and jams out at home to Rush, but he’s a very funny foil to Rudd’s straight-laced bumbler.
Adding to the excellent central pair is an outrageously talented supporting cast featuring Jon Favreau, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg, Jaime Pressly and relative newcomer (though still excellent) Rashida Jones as Klaven’s fiance Zooey. This blockbusting talent really lifts the movie above most recent comedies and makes every scene eminently watchable. Simmons and Samberg standout in their limited screentime as Peter’s father and brother respectively, offering up awesomely disgusting one liners like “the kid had a bush like a 40-year old Serbian” and making you wish they had more time to strut their funny stuff.
The script itself is fairly well-constructed, offering up some memorable set-pieces like a woeful golf outing and the aforementioned man-dates, but it ironically suffers from the more standard rom-com problem: it gets a bit mushy in the latter third. There’s the classic falling-out scenes and reconciliations, but as previously stated this isn’t a movie which is ever going to surprise you with its storyline. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable enough watch. The cast is so good that they make a pretty funny script a lot better than it would be without them, and offer up a comedy which is likely to be palatable to comedy fans of any gender.
An internet poll recently asked its readers if anyone disliked (or knew of anyone who disliked) Paul Rudd, and they came up with 0%. With lead performances like this, you can see why: maybe this is the springboard that launches him into the A-list. It should be.
7/10: A brilliant cast lifts a decent movie above many others, creating an enjoyable two-hour romp through one man’s awkward friend search and making a star of Rudd in the process.