I Love You, Man
If the protagonist doesn’t actually buy into the premise of the film, then how the hell is the audience supposed to come along for the ride?
One day in the not too decent past, an executive at DreamWorks SKG said to another executive, ‘hey – wouldn’t it be awesome if we made a movie about a guy without any man friends – but then he gets married and he needs to find a best man, so he has to go on all these man-dates? You know, we’ll throw in some touchy-feely stuff about men getting in touch with their emotions, some relationship discord, oh and a guy with no apparent means of support who turns out the be the answer to his prayers!’
If at that moment, the second executive had shot the first executive in the face and then dissolved his body in a tub full of lye, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately he didn’t – or if he did, it wasn’t in time to stop I Love You, Man from being filmed and released – and ultimately, that’s all that matters.
I don’t understand Hollywood’s obsession with loneliness. It seems like every season we get at least 5 different flicks zeroing in on just how awful it is to not have a best friend of 20 years / wife / girlfriend / boyfriend / sympathetic German shepherd / father figure / etc. Usually, these movies are designed to prey on that biologically imprinted fear that women have of instantly turning into spinsters when the clock strikes midnight on their 30th birthday. However, apparently having mined that vein of comedic ore for all it is worth, the studios have turned their attentions to the male of the species.
The trouble is, the emotional range of men on film in a comedy is about as extensive as my collection of DVD’s that don’t contain girls going wild – that is to say, almost non-existent. Paul Rudd’s character, who fits the scenario pitched by the studio exec in the opening paragraph, never really convinces us that he actually cares about only being friends with women. If the protagonist doesn’t actually buy into the premise of the film, then how the hell is the audience supposed to come along for the ride?
In fact, Rudd manages to remain almost completely anonymous throughout the entire picture, with aspects of his personality only emerging as a particular scene calls for them. Sure, they load him with cutsie insecurities and the inability to communicate in a macho fashion, but by the end of the movie it’s easy to see why men avoid him like he’s Richard Simmons at a pool party.
Just like John C. Reilly, if Rudd isn’t paired with a strong male lead – ok, if Will Ferrell isn’t in the movie – he sucks. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Jason Segel is that guy, because he isn’t, and Andy Samberg is only in the movie long enough to collect his paycheck and shame the director for giving him any funny lines. It boils down to this. You can give me as much projectile vomit and funny billboards as you want, but you can’t make me emotionally connect with Rudd, the human dial tone, and you can’t make me love this shitty movie.
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