I met up with my friend Matt last night to go to see I Love You, Man at the dollar theater. It had been quite a while since we had been to see a cheap movie there - I think the last one was Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I Love You, Man was kind of one of those movies that I really wanted to go see, but just couldn't justify paying 8 bucks for when it was playing in the first-run theater.
Many of my friends saw this movie, and it was universally declared that this movie would be right up my alley. Jeff went so far as to say, "Dan, you need to see this movie. It is a movie that was made for guys like us." He was, along with the rest of the people that recommended the movie to me, correct. For those that don't know, the movie's basic plot is probably appropriate for a Tweet, because I'm not sure it would take 140 characters to do it. Paul Rudd is about to get married, finds he has no male friends from which to choose a best man. He tries to find friends, meets Jason Segel, and the unlikely duo become fast friends. Typical romantic comedy insanity ensues.
This movie is very much in the vein of Rudd's previous comedy, Role Models - complete with bawdy jokes, funny physical gags and the kind of irreverent humor that straddles the line between funny and offensive. Unlike in Role Models which I found balanced that line less adeptly, I found pretty much all the humor in I Love You, Man to fall on the funny side. I also found it odd that for basically being a "buddy movie", the relationship between Rudd and Segel hit all the typical romantic comedy plot points like clockwork. This is not a bad thing - it has been years since Hollywood cranked out a really good romantic comedy. What was interesting was how this formula was applied to the platonic relationship between the two male leads. The semi-awkward dance of the first "dates", the giddiness of the new relationship, the faux breakup and eventual reconciliation - all these turning points were present to drive the narrative along.
Not surprisingly, I found this movie not only funny, but also kind of sweet. Rudd's Peter Klaven is a caricature for certain - I don't think anyone is that socially inept at the male code - but I found his earnestness in trying to find a friend charming and a little bit cute. He and Sydney (no less a caricature than Peter) are a bit of an odd couple, but Sydney brute machoness serves as a good foil to Peter's macho-not-so-much. There were times in the movie where the chemistry between the two of them didn't really work for me. I couldn't believe that someone like Peter would want to hang out with someone like Sydney. I think that had Sydney been painted a little less broadly it would have been a little more believable. I say that, but truthfully, as a man, I will say that you never know with whom you are going to bond and that sometimes its the differences that cement the friendship rather than the similarities.
Watching the movie, I obviously connected much more with Peter than I did Sydney, even though there were things that Peter did that were truly cringeworthy. I think I recognized a bit more than a sliver of myself in him, as the not-as-masculine guy who has always had "girl friends" as opposed to the kind of buddyship portrayed in this movie. I am always a bit jealous of those types of friendships, but looking back on my own life, it's not like I had any trouble filling up my wedding party nor do I lack for people in my life right now. Additionally, my own experience tells me that the depiction of the relationship between Peter & Sydney was also unrealistic on a few levels, not the least of which was the speed at which they became such close friends. The thing I've learned about those kinds of friendships is that they are simultaneously born out of an organic reaction that you can't force and then cultivated by hard work. You can't force it, you don't dare force it, and sometimes, it takes years. Granted, that was not going to happen in a 90 minute comedy, but still.
I have written on this blog before and will continue to maintain to my last breath that while wives and girlfriends are undeniably important in our path as men, we cannot and should not underestimate what we have to offer to each other. We need each other, for sometimes we just need to be guys. No matter how hard women work to do that, they are not a substitute and are limited by their experience as women in how much they can relate to our experiences as men. I feel like I Love You, Man, while undeniably a farce, showed the truth that our friendships with each other can be as intense and as necessary as our marriages.
May we all be as fortunate as Peter and Sydney.
The previews at the movie last night have led Matt and me to three more movies to see at the dollar theater: Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Friday the 13th. Check, check, and check.