Friday, May 29, 2009


There's a dollar theater in town that occasionally gets the good ones after the fact, the perfect place for movies that I'd like to see, but am pretty sure aren't going to be good enough to spend five dollars on. It's also the perfect place to see movies that I'm pretty sure I don't want to say the names of in public, such as or Borat or Knocked Up. Such is the case with I Love You, Man. It's not that I mind saying that phrase, but in context.

Some undergrads throw this phrase around like it's equivalent to "see ya, dude" or "so, what was our homework?". But this is a serious phrase, one to be handled with delicacy and care, and one I don't say to every male friend. The love of friendship, C.S. Lewis says, is a great thing, and one of the rarest loves, because it has to be about something. It's something I've been contemplating a lot over the last year and a half, as I move from single to married and see more clearly who my friends have truly been friends and who are the ones that have been along for the ride as an accident of time and place.

John Hamburg's I LOVE YOU, MAN is the story of Paul Rudd's character who realizes that he's about to get married, but doesn't have any male friends. Before you laugh, this is not an unbelievable dilemma. Prior to Sarah and I dating, this was kind of my predicament, and one of the early things we had to come to terms with--that I had a lot of female friends but not a lot of dude friends. Not quite as severe as Paul Rudd's problem, but I could relate. And so, in an almost dating-service sort of way, Rudd goes in search of a best man. Enter Jason Segel as the single, honest, good-hearted dude.

I won't spoil the rest of the movie, but you can probably see where it's going. It's a little predictable. It's a comedy, after all--in the classical sense, this means that things get redeemed (hence, Dante's work is called a commedia, because it culminates with Heaven and our redemption). Paul Rudd finds true friendship in unexpected places, Jason Segel turns some corners, and the audience realizes that friendship is something to enjoy, not analyze endlessly or mock. Don't get me wrong: I love the Judd Apatow movies, but they make friendships look like endless farces, whereas Hamburg goes the more realistic route of guys hanging out and jamming to Rush.

Does it rank up there against the Judd Apatow buddy movies? Hamburg's movie is more subtle; there are lots of crude man-humor moments that mean that I'll be re-watching this with the guys and sans my wife-to-be, but that's the way this should be. This is a movie about male friendship, for guys. Segel and Rudd have great chemistry; they always play the minor characters in Apatow's flicks, but when given the top billing, they're total goobers and do it great. Throw in Rudd's ability to play the geeky, smiley guy who can't quite be casual and Lou Ferrigno's best acting turn since The Death of the Incredible Hulk, and you're looking at a movie that I'll be watching again as soon as I can get it on DVD.

Four and half farts in an open house out of five.


Stacey Lawlis said...

We saw this a month or two ago, with measured expectations. Was happily surprised by the type of humor (more awkward, self-conscious moments thrown in with the crude). And the characters were much more rounded than I've come to expect in comedies: Paul Rudd's not an ass, Rashida Jones doesn't get thrown into the familiar shrew-bridezilla role. For a man movie, we talked about it for a few days afterward, actually.

Fun times. Also watching for the DVD.

Tiffani R said...

I saw it in the theater with a guy friend and thought it was a really fun movie, and that it seemed pretty honest about what its like to be a guy and be with guy friends.
There were def a few moments where I felt a little awkward sitting in the midst of a few men and with my guy friend next to me, but overall I think even your future bride would enjoy the truths that undergird the story.

myleswerntz said...

i think the awkward awesome moments outweigh the crude ones enough that you're right, Tiff. I've already got this on the Netflix list.

the hamster said...

lewis wishes he had used this phrase in his LOVE book:

"who are the ones that have been along for the ride as an accident of time and place."

genius, myles. i personally think this is one of your better reviews.

dude, today we sip pints at cricket's, and tonight a roomful of guys will celebrate you and your bride. good times.

and i love you, man.