As far as R-rated comedies go, I Love You, Man is kind of like a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
Sure, it tries to convince you that it’s a raunchy sex farce with it’s jokes about masturbation stations, oral sex and grandma’s riding Sybian machines. But in actuality, it’s an adorable little film about the difficulties of making friends in your 30’s.
I Love You, Man tries frequently to shock you into laughing, but is undercut by the sweetness and likability of it’s principal players.
After proposing to his girlfriend, real estate agent Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) realizes that he doesn’t have a lot of guy friends and goes on a series of “man dates” in an effort to make friends. After a series of set-ups and disasters, Peter meets the enigmatic Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) and hijinks ensue.
The ever-agile Rudd takes his character’s earnestness and propensity for inventing half-cooked slang and nicknames (“See you later, Joben!”) beyond the socially awkward situations he finds himself in. Rudd’s character is pathetic in a way that you root for, not laugh at.
Segel as Sydney is meant to come off like some kind of latter-day hippie. We don’t know what he does for a living or why he dresses like a pawn shop refugee. Later, when Sydney asks Peter for an $8,000 loan, we’re meant to question if his intentions are honorable. But Segel’s sincerity as a performer shines through. And even though Sydney is a bit of an odd duck, he operates within the parameters of a very specific, laid back personal philosophy. He’s never really as outrageous or dangerous as the movie wants you to think he is.
These are not criticisms meant to convince you that I Love You, Man is a bad movie. In fact, it is a very tidy, effective and humorous examination of making friends later in life and the importance of male bonding.
Certainly it is buoyed by the strength of it’s phenomenal supporting cast. Writer/Director John Hamburg did an excellent job of gathering talent. Everyone from the adorable Rashida Jones as Rudd’s fiance, Andy Samberg, Jaime Pressly, Jon Favreau, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtain, Human Giant’s Rob Huebel and The State’s Thomas Lennon and Joe Lo Truglio make appearances.
On Blu-ray, the movie looks spectacular. You can see every last freckle on Jason Segel’s face. Although, I’m starting to become concerned that between this movie and Forgetting Sarah Marshall on Blu-ray, I’m becoming a little too knowledgeable about Segel’s dermatological landscape.
Extras on the disc are everything you would expect. Deleted scenes, extended scenes, a gag reel, a “making-of” documentary and audio commentary from Hamburg, Rudd and Segel.
The extended scenes and gag reel demonstrate not only the large amount of quick-fire improvising that was happening during production, but also Rudd’s aparant inability to keep a straight face at any given time.
Then again, when you have Rob Huebell (as Peter’s real estate rival) sitting across from you ad-libbing all of the celebrities he’s sold homes to, it’s kind of hard not to laugh “Gary Coleman, Emmanuel Lewis, Jaleel White, Donald Sutherland…”
In fact, everything about these extras seems to indicate that the production of I Love You, Man was one of the most loose, playful, happiest experiences ever captured on film. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Next time, don’t try to compete with Bruno for shock value. There’s nothing wrong with making a sweet natured comedy and playing to those strengths.
For people looking for some relaxed laughs with a couple of sex jokes thrown in, I Love You, Man fits the bill.