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SXSW Review: I Love You, Man

March 19, 2009


Boys, if you are looking for that perfect Friday night with your best friend, go no further than “I Love You, Man,” the newest in the proliferation of bromance films.

John Hamburg, the writer of “Zoolander,” writes and directs this tale of bromance set on the eve of Peter Klaven’s wedding (Paul Rudd). When Klaven overhears his fiancee talking with her female friends about his not having friends, he sets out determined to meet someone. His gay brother, played by Andy Samberg, helps give brotherly advice in order to meet the right guy.

And, like most love stories, the right one comes along almost accidentally.

Klaven, a realtor, is having an open house when in walks Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). They hit it off after an extended fart joke that Segel plays off and the two decide to go out for drinks. Segel plays the Oscar to Rudd’s Felix and the comedy is in their uneven match despite Hamburg’s unnecessary third act crisis that makes us suspect Fife’s intentions. However, once they discover their common love for Rush, things are set in motion for the two to become best friends.

While the film is fraught with great cameos, Jon Favreau, Jamie Pressly, JK Simmons, Samberg, the vehicle is Rudd’s to drive with support from Segel and Rashida Jones, his fiancee in the film.

And herein lies the problem.

Several really great actors get swept under the rug with perfunctory performances, particularly Samberg who starts off with several scenes in the first act that appear to set up a need for the two brothers to connect and then fades into the background until the third act where that issue resurfaces, never to be addressed by Rudd’s character. Did something end up on the editing floor that could have completed that or was there never any intention to follow through on that story? And if not, why have Samberg so emotionally moved in the third act by his brother’s request if that was not the original intention?

The other issue with the film is that while Rudd needed to come out from the supporting ranks in the Apatow productions, the predictable straight-laced, awkward guy that Hamburg loves to place in his films is too easy for Rudd. The story may as well have just been Hamburg’s “Along Came Polly,” the friend version. You take the Felix character, a nervous, awkward type that loves to be the married guy and place him with the wild and free Oscar character that shows Felix how to loosen up and appreciate life. The generic storyline is not necessarily a problem, it just makes for predictable comedy.

However, Rudd, proving himself as always, managing some flair with his Bond impressions and bad Leprechaun accent. Not to mention his inability to come up with any kind of cool nickname for Fife, at one point he even stumbles over an attempt and manages “totes my goats.”

The other redemption for Hamburg is the way he can move the story along in a sentimental fashion without ever becoming too sappy. What may start as a joke about blowjobs leads to a serious discussion between friends and between the engaged couple helping to strengthen all the bonds.

For Hamburg, a move away from Ben Stiller was a step in the right direction but the brilliance of his scripts when directed by others has yet to be matched when he takes the reigns. “Zoolander” was a wildly fun over the top comedy, but since then Hamburg has fallen into the safe rut of an Odd Coupleesque scenario with a few big laughs and a safe happy ending, something Rudd and Segel bring strong enough performances to in order to make the film worthwhile. If nothing else, see it for the fantastic over the top performances from Favreau and Pressly.

“I Love You, Man” opens this Friday at the Malco in Oxford along with “Duplicity” and “Knowing.” For showtimes visit
(Melanie writes full-time for the Oxford EAGLE but in her spare time watches too many movies and then blogs about them at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2009 8:59 am

    Compared to the competition opening up this weekend, it seems like seeing this movie is a no-brainer. Should be a good time at the movies! Thanks for sheding some light on this flick. I, too, am at SXSW enjoying the festival!

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