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.”