I Love You, Man
- Street Date:
- August 11th, 2009
- Reviewed by:
- David Krauss
- Review Date: 1
- August 11th, 2009
- Movie Release Year:
- 104 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated R
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Make no mistake, I enjoy a good comedy. I just don't laugh much. I smile, I chuckle, but rarely do I laugh out loud. So imagine my surprise (and delight) when I found myself in stitches several times during John Hamburg's goofy, gentle, raunchy, and deceptively smart comedy, 'I Love You, Man.' This is one funny film that balances almost nonstop hilarity with pinpoint insights into both the male psyche and the unique way guys interrelate. And with such likeable, talented actors fueling the movie's engine, it's tough for any dude to resist its endearing bro-mantic charms.
Perhaps 'I Love You, Man' captivates me most because I identify so closely with its main character. Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a "girlfriend guy," a heterosexual, thirtysomething L.A. realtor whose sensitive, sophisticated personality and sharp wit attract more lady friends than regular joes. Having a bevy of gal pals with whom he can share personal details or discuss favorite films like 'The Devil Wears Prada' and 'Chocolat' has never bothered him before, but after he pops the question to Zooey (Rashida Jones) and she begins to assemble her wedding party, it becomes glaringly clear Peter doesn't possess the requisite cadre of close male friends to stand up with him at the altar. To make matters worse, he overhears Zooey's friends worrying he may become a "clingy," dependent husband if he doesn't develop outside relationships.
So poor Peter embarks on a serious buddy quest. His gay (and ironically more masculine) brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg), suggests a series of "man-dates," and Peter gamely fixes himself up with an assortment of quirky specimens. No one clicks with him, however, until Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) wanders into an open house Peter is hosting at the estate of former TV 'Hulk' Lou Ferrigno. The two immediately hit it off, exchange business cards, and go through the awkward building rituals of any new relationship. Though Sydney is Peter's polar opposite – brutally honest, ultra laid back, lacking in social graces, and, yes, immature – he coaxes the uptight, insecure realtor out of his shell while giving him a crash course in male bonding. At first, Zooey is thrilled Peter has found a comrade-in-arms, but as the friendship intensifies, she begins to feel left out, and Peter, helplessly caught between them, discovers the difficulty of managing two very close mates.
Packed with priceless quips and goofball antics galore, 'I Love You, Man' scores high on the laugh meter, but it's so much more than a lowbrow, Neanderthal farce. Hamburg's film subtly taps into a guy's very real, deep-seeded need for close male companionship, and shows how rare and special it is to find that one true friend to trust, confide in, hang out with, display affection for, and most of all, be yourself with. It's a tricky subject that could easily go off the rails, yet the screenplay (by Hamburg and Larry Levin) tackles it in a straightforward manner filled with humor, honesty, and a touching sweetness. Though crass, crude jokes and frank sexual references abound, Hamburg presents it all as part of America's indigenous man-culture, which heightens the hilarity and dilutes the offensive overtones just enough.
Rudd is one of Hollywood's finest comic actors, and he's been a second (or third) banana for far too long. 'I Love You, Man' at last offers him a tailor-made role and, like the recent 'Role Models,' thrusts him into the spotlight where he belongs. Whether he's trying (and failing) to be cool, adopting a pseudo-macho persona, wriggling out of an uncomfortable situation, or in the moments when he lets his guard down and allows his true essence to shine through, Rudd is always so natural and believable, and perfectly embodies the qualities that make Peter Klaven such a relatable character.
Though I tend to run hot and cold with Segel, he snared me here, deftly balancing Sydney's rough edges and annoying idiosyncrasies with a genuine sincerity that keeps us in his corner throughout the film. Jones is also quite winning as Zooey, and the supporting cast, featuring such stalwart clowns as Samberg, Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons, and especially Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau (who almost steal the film as a bickering married couple), helps maintain the peppy pace while infusing the story with spicy accents.
'I Love You, Man' instantly qualifies as one of the year's funniest films, and may one day stake its claim as cinema's definitive bro-mance. In our often homophobic society, movies that tackle male bonding often do so in a standoffish manner, yet the humor in 'I Love You, Man' takes the edge off any uncomfortable moments without trivializing the tender emotion lurking underneath. Hamburg strikes just the right tone, and the result is a very fulfilling and surprisingly perceptive comedy. See it with a bro you love.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'I Love You, Man' arrives on Blu-ray sporting a clean, crisp 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer with well-balanced color, sharp details, and a faint grain structure that lends the image a pleasing filmic appearance. Hues, especially during the closing scenes in Santa Barbara, possess just enough vibrancy to attract the eye, but never look artificial, and fleshtones are spot-on at all times. Well-defined facial features enhance intimacy, and fabrics exhibit good texture. Blacks are deep enough, but not especially rich, and shadows never obscure background objects.
While no digital enhancements disrupt the image, I did feel the picture often looked a shade too bright. On the whole, however, contrast is properly pitched, adding nice depth and weight, but dimensionality comes at a premium. This is not a knock-your-socks-off presentation, but rather a smooth, natural-looking effort that serves the material well.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is a bit of a disappointment. Though 'I Love You, Man' doesn't set off any sonic fireworks – no explosions, car chases, or gun battles – the mix sounds slightly muted, and doesn't take advantage of its multi-channel capabilities. The audio is always clear, but never comes alive the way a lossless track should. Missed opportunities for ambient action abound during multiple outdoor scenes, keeping the rears quiet and flattening out L.A.'s vibrant atmosphere. Only during the concert sequences featuring the legendary band Rush does the sound perk up, widening its scope and achieving a palpable surround feel.
Most of the action is predictably anchored up front, and there's not much stereo separation to jazz it up. Dialogue is well prioritized and easy to understand, and the lack of any substantive bass keeps the mix one-dimensional. Though this is perfectly serviceable sound that suits the film, there's little warmth, texture, or detail to enhance the experience.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
'I Love You, Man' features just what fans would expect from a disc of this sort – lots of outtakes, bloopers, and other fun material – all in HD.
- Audio Commentary – Director/writer Hamburg, Rudd, and Segel serve up a rollicking commentary (did we expect anything else?) that's long on entertainment, rapport, and anecdotes, but short on substance. The dialogue is never dull, as the trio share scene-specific tidbits and lets us in on some of the funny business that didn't make the final cut. We learn about the origin of "Jobin," how Rudd's constant laughing disrupted several shots, and the thrill of working with Ferrigno and Rush. There's also plenty of good-natured ribbing, jokes, and mutual admiration during this enjoyable track. Fans will get a kick out of it.
- Featurette: "The Making of 'I Love You, Man'" (HD, 17 minutes) – This standard yet breezy behind-the-scenes piece features too much plot recap and character analysis, but the bright personalities keep it interesting. On-set footage shows the cast and crew clowning around, and interviews examine Peter's unique "phraseology," how Hamburg integrated Lou Ferrigno and the rock band Rush into the film, and the tight chemistry between Rudd and Segel. There's also a demonstration of the air-charged vomit machine that plays a key role early in the film.
- Extras (HD, 22 minutes) – A collection of cut bits and alternate takes, often strung together in rapid-fire manner, that highlights the cast's tremendous comic acuity and quickness. All the actors are wonderful improvisers and can keep an ad-lib routine going and going and going without missing a beat. The final sequence, in which Rudd tries in vain to get through a single line-reading, had me rolling. (The collection of "Klavenisms" is a riot, too.)
- Extended Scenes (HD, 13 minutes) – This group of six elongated sequences is a mixed bag, but there are a few comic gems buried within. A dissection of Johnny Depp's screen persona is especially amusing, and the engagement dinner has some funny moments, too.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 3 minutes) – Three excised sequences detail more shenanigans, as Peter attempts to play rugby with a team of burly Cro-Magnons; visits his brother (and dad) during their gay bowling league night; and endures several cheesy poses with his groomsmen.
- Gag Reel (HD, 11 minutes) – This one takes a while to get going, but eventually offers some truly comical crack-ups, breakdowns, and good-natured chicanery. In my book, 11 minutes is a bit too long for a gag reel, and this compendium easily could have been trimmed at least by half, but it's still a pleasant time-waster.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
The disc hides a couple of eggs that yield brief outtakes, one of which is better left to the imagination.
For the first, go to the Special Features section, click on Extras, and in the sub-menu highlight Klavenisms. Hit the left directional button on your remote, and in the lower left corner of the screen, a clickable gray option will appear entitled "Dude Von Dudenstein." Press enter and an outtake will play.
The second egg can be reached by accessing the Special Features section, scrolling down to Deleted Scenes, and highlighting Groomsmen Photo Session in the sub-menu. Press the down directional button, and in the lower right corner of the screen a clickable gray option will appear entitled "Totes McGoats." Press enter and another outtake will play.
Thanks to dillsnufus for alerting us to the presence of Easter Eggs on this disc.
'I Love You, Man' is a bro-mantic dream come true. Crude and juvenile on the outside, warm and sweet on the inside, and funny all over, this light, wacky, yet oh-so-true comedy will keep you laughing through repeated replays. A slick video transfer, adequate audio, and a bunch of amusing extras brighten this Blu-ray and make it a slam-dunk for those man enough to appreciate its raunchy humor and subtle emotion. Recommended.
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- BD-50 Dual Layer Disc
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
- French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
- Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
- English Subtitles
- English SDH
- French Subtitles
- Spanish Subtitles
- Brazilian Portuguese
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted and extended scenes
- Gag reel
Exclusive HD Content
- Red Band Trailer