Deciding to get married makes people take stock of their life. I think it is because you’re forced to think about The Future in a massive, “til death” sort of way. But it is also reinforced with concerns about how things will appear at the wedding, when you’ve got all eyes on you. For example, a lot of people try to lose weight for their wedding. (Which I do not endorse, but just run with this analogy for a second.) You’re thinking about spending the rest of your life with your partner, so you think you want to make that life longer and better, and you try to achieve that by eating better and getting more fit. Meanwhile, you’ll maybe look thinner at your wedding, which will delight everyone because you’ve done your duty in our jacked culture and gotten thinner before daring to display yourself to a large group of people. (Sorry, I can’t go through with that analogy without getting really cynical. I hate that weight loss is such a big part of wedding culture, but that is for a different post!)
In I Love You, Man, Paul Rudd plays Peter Klaven, who after getting engaged takes stock of his friendships, or lack thereof. He’s thinking about a future where his wife needs time with her girlfriends, but he doesn’t have close friends of his own. And he’s thinking about having a line of women in matching dresses on one side of the ceremony, and no one to stand up with him as the groom. So he tries to make friends.
There’s a bunch of awkward scenes where Peter seeks out friends but ends up hanging out with weirdos and/or accidentally going on dates, which frankly I skipped today, because I really only had time for a “good parts version.” The good parts are about Peter and his new best friend, Sydney, falling in Man Love, but what really makes this movie work as more than a diverting bromance is Peter and his fiance, Zooey, being in Romantic Love in a very convincing, non-cartoonish relationship for this sort of movie.
The AV Club’s Q&A column last week asked which fictional couples seem like they’re actually a good match, and Nathan Rabin named Peter and Zooey because their relationship “felt very lived-in and natural, like they’d known each other forever, yet familiarity bred comfort and security rather than contempt.” I completely agree with that assessment; even though the characters get engaged after a short courtship, they do seem to just fit together. It’s relatable and nice to see in a wedding movie.
When Peter and Zooey’s inevitable “your relationship with your New Best Friend is weird” fights come along in the plot, they’re believable and reasonable. Zooey’s character could have so easily been depicted as a shrew, the Ho to Sydney’s Bro. Which, at least as far as I’m concerned, would have sunk the movie, I don’t care how charming Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are when they’re playing Rush songs together and comparing pineapples.
Believe it or not, I Love You, Man even passes the Bechdel Test, provided one line of dialogue about sushi being tasty enough to risk mercury poisoning is sufficient to satisfy the third prong (the conversation quickly turns to preparing for pregnancy, so… maybe not. But even coming close is impressive for a movie that is about Dudes in Friend Love).
I’d also like to thank I Love You, Man for being the first wedding movie to have given me inspiration I’m actually planning on using in my own wedding. I’ve mentioned before that because I don’t have living parents to walk me down the aisle, I’d like to be walked down by my closest friends. This movie is totally where I got that idea. (I first saw this before Collin and I decided to get married, but I filed it away for future use.)
Can I also take a moment to praise the costume designer/set decorator for making Zooey’s apparent appreciation of the color yellow appear throughout the film and not just in her bridesmaids’ dresses? It’s a little detail, but it rings true and I appreciate it.
I Love You, Man depicts friendships and romantic relationships warmly, richly, and genuinely, and it is very funny and pleasant to watch along the way. Plus it involves a wedding while avoiding or at least subverting so many of the wedding movie cliches that have started to make me break out into hives, and it actually gave me an idea I am excited to use at my wedding. And the cast features Lou Ferrigno as himself. You can’t get much better than that. What I’m trying to say is, “I love you, movie.”
August 17, 2010 at 12:53 pm
Finally! A movie I love. I agree that the relationship between Peter and Zooey is one of the most “right” relationships in a rom com. Plus, I have a “type,” and it’s short dark-haired funny men, so Paul Rudd is WAY up there on my awesome list.
August 18, 2010 at 12:02 am
Paul Rudd is adorable. He also doesn’t seem to age at the same rate as normal humans.
August 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm
Okay. You are making me want to see this movie. I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to say that about any movie you’ve ever reviewed except for Steel Magnolias, and I’d actually already seen that one numerous times. (Wait, you did Steel Magnolias, right? I am not just making that up?)
Also, the friends walking you down the aisle thing is awesome.
August 18, 2010 at 12:03 am
I did do Steel Magnolias, and this movie is totally worth seeing.
August 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm
I also want to see this movie now. I had lumped it in with all other cheesy and predictable romcoms with their stereotyped relationships, but a realistic portrayal of a relationship? This I have to see! I think I have dibs on the next movie rental so I’m going with this. And Paul Rudd is pretty cute.
August 18, 2010 at 12:05 am
Do you trade off movie rental selections? That is a good idea.
August 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm
We try to, though movies that are truly gag-worthy to either of us are off limits. And for anything on the verge of too girly, John assumes the right to provide surly and sarcastic commentary along the way (which I generally agree with).
August 17, 2010 at 10:36 pm
Wow, a good review! I’ve never seen this movie (do you get the sense that I don’t watch a lot of movies?), so maybe I’ll get this one from Netflix. Extremely happy to hear it’s not filled with cliches and misogyny.
August 18, 2010 at 12:06 am
This isn’t the first movie I have written about on my blog that I liked, but it probably is the first movie that I liked enough to not make fun of it.
August 18, 2010 at 3:55 am
Ok, I have not seen this movie in a long time so maybe I’m off base but… Could those two dudes be US?
1. We, too, had a ‘courting’ period to our friendship
2. We, too, have an absurd love of a terrible band
3. We’re totally as cool, if not cooler, than Jason Segel and Paul Rudd
I’ve run out of comparisons for tiredness reasons and hope you’ll back my play on this.
August 18, 2010 at 10:01 am
What terrible band could you POSSIBLY be referring to?
August 22, 2010 at 10:42 am
ha ha! its great to hear about an actually good wedding movie. i do adore paul rudd and jason segel. ryan always teases me because regina makes me mad since she dated pam on the office then is trying to wreck my favorite couple on parks & rec
March 29, 2016 at 4:11 pm
What a funny blog! I actually Movie Review: I Love You, Man | HitchDied loved watching this humorous video with my family as well as together with my friends.
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