I'm starting to think Paul Rudd is following me around.
The first inkling I got of this was during a viewing of Role Models last year. After his character's fourth or fifth tirade, this time arguing over the name of a song, I turned to my movie pal and said, "Oh, my God, that's me!" To which she replied, "That's just what I was thinking!"
Notice how I said my movie pal was a "she," because shortly after, I saw the first trailer for I Love You, Man, in which Paul Rudd plays a guy who is kind of a wuss and has only ever had strong friendships with females. Damnit, that's me again! Of course, when Paul Rudd is me, he gets to go out with women like Elizabeth Banks and Rashida Jones. When I'm me...well, I have a pretty awesome cat.
I Love You, Man is the new film from writer/director John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, TV's Undeclared), and though it's still too early in 2009 to say it's the funniest movie of the year, it's definitely the funniest so far. It's been a while since I've laughed this boisterously and so often while sitting in a movie theater. (Five months after its theatrical release, I can still stand by these statements, though The Hangover is giving I Love You, Man some heated competition.)
Paul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven, a somewhat meek real-estate man who has just become engaged to his lovely girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones). When Zooey realizes that Peter has no close friends, particularly of the male variety, her girlfriends (led by Jaime Pressly and Sarah Burns) warn her that this is a recipe for disaster, that Peter will end up being a clingy, needy husband. Determined to prevent this, Peter departs on a mission to get out there, mingle, and form some dude relationships.
Naturally, the early attempts lead to plenty of fail. Projectile vomiting, mistaken gayness, and general creepiness plague Peter's first "man dates." These sequences, some of them set up by his gay brother (Andy Samberg) and clueless mother (Jane Curtin), are a fun twist on the usual rundown we see in romantic comedies, which is largely Hamburg and co-writer Larry Levin's point. In the way Hot Fuzz subverted the buddy cop movie by bringing the underlying homoeroticism to the surface, so too is I Love You, Man a hysterical subversion of the rom-com. You could almost call it the bromance version of Along Came Polly. Geez, now that I think about it, Jason Segel is Jennifer Aniston in this. Segel's Sydney character is even prone to wear a scarf the way Polly was! And Polly's ferret is now Sydney's pug/beagle crossbreed named for Anwar Sadat!
Peter and Sydney meet at Peter's open house for Lou Ferrigno's Los Angeles mansion, which is Peter's move into the big leagues, an upgrade from his normal small apartments and bungalows. The two become fast friends despite being polar opposites. Sydney is outgoing, open, fearless, a total man's man. He takes Peter under his wing and helps him to open up, to be more honest and masculine. They discuss women, share meals, and play Rush songs together. It's guy love at first sight. And it's all great until Zooey starts to wonder if the pals are maybe getting too close.
I don't want to oversell it here, but all of the elements of I Love You, Man come together perfectly and hum like a fine-tuned machine. The writing is clever and raunchy, and Paul Rudd and Jason Segel make a great pair. The two clearly have a love of language and enjoy riffing off each other, bouncing odd turns of phrase and mispronunciations back and forth. They are also both shameless physical comedians who aren't afraid to dive into a barf joke or play some ridiculous air guitar. Both actors are confident enough to sell just about any gag, regardless of how off the wall it is.
In their efforts, Rudd and Segel are backed by an impressive supporting cast. In addition to Pressly, Jones, and Curtin, the movie also features Jon Favreau, J.K. Simmons, Human Giant's Rob Huebel and Aziz Ansari, and State-alumni Joe Lo Truglio and Thomas Lennon in bit parts. As any great cast should, these guys all provide something different for the leads to play off, opening new doors to new laughs. If this comedy were a house, that house would have many rooms, and there would be something different yet equally hysterical in each one.
I Love You, Man is a movie that knows what it wants and relentlessly pursues it. Lucky for you, what it wants is laughs. Expect to hand over quite a few.
And, Paul Rudd? I'm watching you!
The anamorphic widescreen transfer on I Love You, Man is excellent. A clean, sharp image with excellent colors. There are no compression issues or other digital glitches. An conscientious transfer.
There are a variety of 5.1 soundtracks to choose from: the original English, a French version, and a Spanish version. The audio is really good, with nice balance and decent speaker interplay.
Subtitles are also available in all three languages, including English Closed Captioning.
There are a bunch of good extras on this single-disc release. First up is a jokey audio commentary with Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and director John Hamburg. The guys are all friends and so joke around confidently, riffing on the movie itself and telling about the shenanigans that went on during filming. They also break down some serious anecdotes about how some of the scenes were put together, and talk about a lot of the various gags they tried (a fart machine, anyone?) that didn't end up making the final cut. It's also interesting to hear them talk about test screening reactions, but also noting that the film won't be out for another couple of days, so they have no idea how well it will be received.
The "The Making of I Love You, Man" featurette (17 minutes, 25 seconds) manages to sidestep the standard "making of" traps by having fun with the concept, joking around here as much as the participants did in the commentary. The cast and crew playfully teases each other, and they look at the filming of some of the more outrageous scenes, such as showing us how the projectile vomiting was achieved.
The rest of the bonus features are a variety of deleted scenes and alternate takes. "Extras" (22:30) shows various scenes from the movie and alternate line takes, showcasing the kind of improvs that the director and editor had to choose from. "Extended Scenes" (12:40) gives us longer versions of scenes already in the movie, including Paul Rudd's "Diff'rent Strokes" speech during the engagement dinner, as referenced in the commentary. "Deleted Scenes" (3:20) is a trio of bits cut from the final movie. The scene with J.K. Simmons as part of the gay bowling league is very funny, but better is the stuff with the groomsmen getting their photo taken at the wedding--hilarious to anyone in particular who has ever been part of a wedding, it's scarily accurate in how cheesy it is. In addition, there are three short easter eggs, deleted scenes found on the special features menu, accessed by highlighting the lights on the scooter in the menu image. This includes another infamous cut scene: grandmother on a Sibian!
The gag reel (11:25) is a collection of bloopers and screw-ups. Pretty funny. The spirit of all the bonus features is more laughs, and more laughs you will get.
There are also a collection of trailers that play as the film loads and as a full program from the special features menu.
I Love You, Man was a welcome comedic surprise when it was released to theatres earlier this year, and it's just as funny now that it's out on DVD. A fun, sweet tale about Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as two men finding friendship uses raunchy, masculine humor to subvert the standard romantic comedy and make something totally different. Don't get me wrong, though, as the ladies get some good screen time, too, with great supporting performances from Rashida Jones and Jaime Pressly. Just a couple of many fantastic cameos that makes this movie sizzle. This cast is a powerhouse of talent, and this movie is a juggernaut of laughs. I Love You, Man is one that has mass appeal and any moviegoer should be able to enjoy. Highly Recommended.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with JoŽlle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent project is the comedy series Spell Checkers, again with Jones and artist Nicolas Hitori de. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.