Monday, March 23, 2009

"I Love You, Man": Rudd, Segel, Samberg face off, but "reproduction rules"


Just like the “Not Into You” film a few weeks ago, here we have another “romantic comedy” from the (heterosexual) guy point of view. It’s “I Love You, Man”, directed by John Hamburg, written with Larry Levin.

Okay, it’s about the dimensions and limits of (heterosexual) male friendship. This time, gentle but hairy-chested Paul Rudd plays a straight male role, a successful Los Angeles realtor Peter Klaven, who has proposed to Zooey (Rashida Jones). But pretty soon, his family and especially his gay brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) are pressuring him into entering the world of male bonding to find a best man for the wedding.

Ah ha. Well, first, he does, when pigout investor Sidney Fife (Jason Segel) shows up at the realtor’s showings for the food. The friendship happens, partly because Sidney impresses Peter with his level of testosterone (although his chest doesn’t count). “I’m a guy”. Sure, so that means he doesn’t have to pick up the poop on Venice CA sidewalks.

Samberg’s role is impressive. He (that is, his character) works as a trainer in a local “free-weights” gym, and there are a few other loose attempts at “friendship” that happen first, even including a male kiss (and a really gross-out drunken projectile vomiting which Peter tosses off). I think the movie could have used an excerpt from Samberg’s SNL digital short “Laser Cats”. (The movie does show an excerpt from the artsy French film “Chocolat” with a young Johnny Depp). His role helped him make the cover of “Out” recently as a “straight” actor. Otherwise, it seems that he keeps SNL together, especially when showbiz amateurs like Michael Phelps host SNL.

In the last scene, Samberg almost winds up as an emergency “best man”. You could say that this is a lesson in the idea that “reproduction rules.” A gay man helping a straight man marry when he doesn’t have the same right to marry the adult of his choice (although maybe when this film was shot, California’s Prop 8 hadn’t passed yet).

The film does show all the social schmoozing (even from workplace cubicles) that goes on in many lines of business, where making money (commissions, especially) is dependent not on direct productivity, but on the capacity to manipulate others socially. Some of the film's funniest scenes take place around relatively humble-looking workplace cubicles.

I sort of missed Justin Long in this movie, because he was so effective as the spoiler in the “Not Into” business. Maybe this script didn’t have a place for that character.

All in all, the film was funny. Funnier than “not into”.

The opening Dreamworks trademark was rather tarnished by the music from the movie. Dreamworks should have used its usual harp music mark first. I’m surprised that its lawyers let that one by.

No comments: