My first thought coming out of I Love You, Man was premature disgust with the motion picture Academy for snubbing Paul Rudd in next year’s nominations. There’s no doubt in my mind he won’t even be considered a long shot for any acting awards, just as there’s no doubt in my mind that he deserves a boatload of them.
Rudd appears in just about every scene of I Love You, Man and his hilariously awkward charm takes the film to another level. He delivers a fabulous comedic performance that relies not on jokes (though there are plenty) but on the humor of personality. His painful inability to leave a room or a phone conversation without a cringe-inducing stab at dude etiquette are both high comedy and an insight into his character’s winning mix of sincerity and insecurity.
I’ve gotten crap over the years for not giving comedies their due, but I’ve always maintained that’s because truly great comedies are few and far between. I might see a dozen comedic films without seeing one I consider special. On the flip side, I don’t usually see a dozen “serious” films… I try to see the ones I expect will be special. A mediocre comedy or action film can still serve as a diversion for a couple of hours… a mediocre drama is often just a waste of time.
Well, I Love You, Man is the funniest, and best, comedy I’ve seen since Knocked Up. It’s one of those movies so chock full of great moments that you want to see it again immediately because you’ve forgotten half of them and want to re-experience the rest.
It’s mostly Rudd’s show, but co-stars Jason Segel, Rashida Jones (freakin’ adorable), Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg, Jane Curtin and Sarah Burns all deserve mention. Another rant: Why don’t films like this ever get recognized for Best Ensemble awards at the year-end shows?
The plot, though it certainly borrows beats from countless films before it, feels fresh to me. I can’t think of another film that focuses on the search for platonic male companionship. Superbad was a sweet (and raunchy) look at an established “bromance” but that film was more a coming-of-age tale about leaving the comfort zone of adolescent friendship. I Love You, Man is a meet-cute romantic comedy about two men and, despite a few gay jokes, it feels progressive in a post-Milk sort of way.
After a slow start to 2009 (par for the course at this time of the year) it’s nice to have seen two movies in two weeks that would have cracked my 2008 top ten list. I hope this bodes well for the rest of the year.