Friday, March 20, 2009

I Love You, Man

I don't remember exactly when the term bromance was introduced into the lexicon but it seems were stuck with it, at least for the forseeable future. From the writer/director of Along Came Polly and the writer of Doctor Doolitle 2 comes this tale of a man on the eve of his wedding who realizes he doesn't have any male friends. Thus hilarity (or Hollywood's approximation of the concept) ensues. As set-ups go it's pretty bland (and seems to be cribbing a tad too much from The 40 Year Old Virgin), but I'll admit I Love You, Man was better than I expected.

After an eight month courtship Peter (Paul Rudd) and Zooey (Rashida Jones) have gotten engaged. Zooey's friends (Sarah Burns, Jaime Pressley) are pleased with her choice for a husband, but they're a little concerned with the fact that Peter has no male friends. When Peter realizes his wife's misgivings he begins a "humorous" search for a best pal that ends in Peter's discovery of a new friendship with a slightly unbalanced stranger (Jason Segel).

Although the film contains many funny moments there are few big laughs. Part of the trouble is the film tries a bit too hard at pushing rather obvious jokes down our throats. Peter is a goof and mildly socially retarded. We get the joke early on, but the film is relentless in treading over the same material over and over again until its almost impossible to take him seriously.

The plot also contains scenes and segements that range from groan worthy to slightly humorous in-and-of themselves but do little to advance the plot of the film. The worst of these comes from the montage of Peter's man-dates (including, of course, the annoying guy, the gay misunderstanding, and some pretty disgusting projectile vomiting) which begin to drag long before the friendship the film centers around ever gets going. When Peter meets Sydney (Segel) we're finally given what feels like a natural scene and I wonder why the writers thought they needed the crap and contraptions we're forced to sit through in order to get to what is actually worth watching.

Of course the film also has to give us the prolonged yet easily resolved third action romantic comedy tension when Zooey becomes jealous of the time Peter is spending with his new friend. Great, we haven't seen that before.

As a night out at the movies I Love You, Man works fine, even if it's not all that memorable. You'll get a few chuckles, see Lou Ferigno put Jason Segel in a sleeper-hold, and then you'll move on to something else. Keep your expectations low; this isn't one of those films you walk out laughing and quoting the best lines and moments, but it is one where you can have an okay time. The talent involved on-screen sadly overshadows that of the script and direction, but this time a year you could do far worse.

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