I Love You, Man [Blu-Ray]
Director : John Hamburg
Screenplay : John Hamburg and Larry Levin (story by Larry Levin)
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 2009
Stars : Paul Rudd (Peter Klaven), Jason Segel (Sydney Fife), Rashida Jones (Zooey), Sarah Burns (Hailey), Jaime Pressly (Denise), Jon Favreau (Barry), Jane Curtin (Joyce Klaven), J.K. Simmons (Oswald Klaven), Andy Samberg (Robbie Klaven), Rob Huebel (Tevin Downey)
The mainstream comedy genre has in recent years become a kind of breeding ground for male arrested development. From the back-to-college frat-jinks of Old School (2003) to the happily single slob hero and his aimless roomies in Knocked Up (2006), the American comedy has embraced unadorned masculinity--in all its slovenly, sexist, drunken, and often infantile glory--with such enthusiastic gusto that it comes as a genuine surprise that I Love You, Man is perhaps the first to make male bonding its actual subject.
Dropping the snarky sarcasm and deep-rooted cynicism that he displayed so aptly in Role Models (2008), Paul Rudd disappears into metrosexual cashmere sweaters and slim-fit chinos as Peter Klaven, a successful real estate agent who, in the film’s opening scene, proposes to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones). All seems fine until Zooey starts calling all her best girlfriends (Jaime Pressley and Sarah Burns) to tell them the good news and it becomes obvious that Peter doesn’t have anyone to call outside his parents. You see, Peter has no real guy friends--not because there’s anything wrong with him as person, but rather because he just doesn’t relate to other men. He’s closer to his mother (Jane Curtin) than he is to his guy’s guy father (an underutilized J.K. Simmons), who ironically counts as one of his best friends Peter’s gay brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg). Peter has had a string of girlfriends over the years, thus his worldview has been shaped to be predominantly female, which makes him extremely appealing to women because he understands their needs, but keeps him from identifying with abject maleness (he is repulsed by the hilarity his obnoxious coworker finds in granny porn and he has never bothered to learn rudimentary “guy stuff” like how to play poker and drinking games).
Feeling the pinch to score some groomsmen, Peter sets out on a series of hilariously disastrous “man dates,” each of which poses its own special challenge. At one of his open houses, Peter connects with Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), an unlikely potential best friend who is his complete opposite. Happily single (although he does prowl for recent divorcees since they’re as disinterested in a relationship as he is), completely unconcerned about his physical appearance, and blatantly male-centric in his outlook on everything, Sydney is a retrosexual apotheosis, and he has much to teach Peter in his self-described “man cave,” which is a kind of primordial shrine to narcissistic masculinity filled with TVs, music instruments, and, yes, a masturbation station. Yet, you get the sense that Peter and Sydney connect not just because of what Sydney offers, but because they genuinely grow to like each other as they swap sex stories, jam out to the exquisite dinosaur rock of Rush, coin their own silly nicknames and lingo, and otherwise engage in the time-honored rituals of male bonding. In every way, then, I Love You, Man follows the well-worn tenets of the romantic comedy, right down to the complicating factors, temporary “break up,” and last-minute reconciliation.
What makes I Love You, Man work so well is how it accumulates a wealth of amusing detail along the way and also avoids some of the more rough-edged clichés of the genre, which we can see particularly in the decent treatment of Peter’s mother (Curtin plays her like a normal parent, not some over-the-top shrew) and his brother, whose homosexuality is not reduced to swishing stereotypes (the fact that he’s played by Andy Samberg in such restrained form is a miracle in and of itself). Rudd and Segal are both excellent, as well, with Rudd orchestrating his character’s initial forays into guyness as a symphony of cringe-inducing awkward moments and Segal managing a delicate balance that allows him to be everything that Peter is not without turning him into a simple study in crudity. Segal brings the vulnerability he displayed so memorably in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and wraps it up in a protective layer of übermasculinity, but without hiding it completely, so that when he has to show his true colors at the end, it feels natural.
Up until this point, co-writer/director John Hamburg has done the majority of his work with Ben Stiller--he co-wrote Meet the Parents (2000), Meet the Fockers (2004), and Zoolander (2001), as well as and wrote and directed Along Came Polly (2004)--and he seems to have absorbed Stiller’s likeable dweeb persona, which he reworks in I Love You, Man as a means of getting at the heated struggle in contemporary society about what, exactly, men are supposed to be. Coming out of the era of Bravo-induced metrosexuality in which being sensitive, caring, and attuned to personal hygiene and style were criteria of successful modern masculinity, I Love You, Man finds room to celebrate the inner caveman without discarding all of the refinements.
|I Love You, Man Blu-Ray|
|Subtitles||English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish|
|Distributor||Paramount Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||August 11, 2009|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|No complaints here. The 1080p high-definition presentation of I Love You, Man on this dual-layer BD50 Blu-Ray disc is sharp and clear with good detail and natural color. The Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 surround soundtrack is also crisp and clean with plenty of extra boost when the soundtrack is flooded with classic Rush tunes.|
|Co-writer/director John Hamburg and stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segel certainly sound like they had a good time recording the commentary (although poor Segal doesn’t have much to say for the first 20 minutes since his character isn’t introduced until well into the movie). They laugh and joke while discussing various amusing stories about making the movie, and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s certainly entertaining. The 17-minute “The Making of I Love You, Man” featurette offers a general background on the production; it includes interviews with Hamburg, producers Donald De Line and Andrew Haas, and stars Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Rashida Jones, Jon Favreau, Jamie Pressly, J.K. Simmons, and Andy Samberg. Again, nothing groundbreaking here, although I was surprised to learn that the projectile vomit shot was done entirely on a green-screen soundstage. Also included on the disc are nine “extra” scenes totaling about 23 minutes, six “extended” scenes totaling 13 minutes, and three short deleted scenes (including an additional “man date” with a rugby player). There is also a 12-minute gag reel (I can imagine it being hard to keep a straight face while making this film) and the original red band theatrical trailer. In one of the supplements Hamburg (I think) mentions that there is an Easter egg that actually shows the granny porn, but I didn’t spend much time looking for it.|
Copyright ©2009 James Kendrick
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