Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Love You, Man (2009)

Retro Active Critique #1:

Although I am female, I have embraced the current concept of bromantic comedies, or "brom-coms". I enjoyed and gushed about "Pineapple Express" a bit more than some. "I Love you, Man" is a sweet movie that takes the bromance genre to the next level... perhaps not to the "Sleepless in Seattle" one, but to that of "You've Got Mail." With only slightly less schlock, and there's nothing wrong with a bit of schlock in a rom-com. "I Love You, Man" plays like a classic romantic comedy, but the spin is that it spotlights the blossoming of a meaningful friendship between two guys. One can see clearly in that moment when the soon-to-be friends first meet that there is some serious "love at first sight" chemistry between them. It is so charmingly evident and the connection is palpable, as if each has genuinely found his perfect mate - of the friend, buddy, pal variety.

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a newly engaged real estate agent in L.A. haplessly searching for a best friend to be his best man for his impending wedding. He'd always been the "girlfriend guy" who didn't make time for strong male friendships. After a few failed attempts in finding a viable pal, he nearly gives up hope. So Peter's chance encounter with Sydney Fife (Jason Segal), a guy who's just crashing and enjoying the sun-dried tomato panini sandwiches at his "understated" open house for a big client, Lou Ferrigno, is that revelatory moment when birds are singing, it seems as if they are the only two people in the room, all is right with the world... and he just knows: this is it, this guy is "the one". And we know and rejoice it, as well.

There are several things to love about "I Love You, Man". For instance, how honest the two guys are with one another. Not simply in that they share details about their personal and/or sex lives (the sort of carefree, masculine bonding Peter had been lacking before Sydney), but midway into their on screen relationship, Pete is provoked into telling Syd about his deliberate search for a best friend/best man, prior to meeting him. This prompts Syd to ask if that's the only reason Peter wanted to be friends with him. It's not, of course - they both clarify immediately that, no... their friendship is authentic, and they have both enjoyed it immensely so far. In an average rom-com, there tends to be that dark secret that looms heavy, resurfacing to break up the couple, just so that they can eventually get back together again - but "for real, this time." It is refreshing that the film manages to skate past such gags and creates a story that is engaging on its own. I should add that they do break up and get back together, but in a less contrived way.

+ + + + + + + + +

In keeping with the retro-active elements, there was a good deal of Rush action in the film, as the guys have jam sessions in Syd's Venice Beach hangout. On real instruments, no sign of a Guitar Hero in the man-cave, thank goodness. There is also an appearance by Rush themselves, performing at a live gig. The before mentioned soft-spoken giant Lou Ferrigno (aka TV's "Hulk"), is also sprinkled nicely into the plot lines. And lastly - but only because this was a bromance, after all - there's Rashida Jones (daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones) as the lovely fiance, Zoe, who happens to be Pete's other perfect mate.

And here's Canada's own Rush to take us out - with "Tom Sawyer".

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