FFWD REW

I love you man but this movie sucks

Cliched plot and forced comedy better suited to Dane Cook

I Love You Man really wants to be an Apatow film. It talks and looks like one; a cast drawn from the Apatow repertory cussing through stunted adolescence. Yet director John Hamburg seems intent on shoving the film into a focus-group-tested mould. If this film hadn’t starred Paul Rudd and Jason Segel it would have been another unmemorable paycheque for Jason Biggs (American Pie) and Dane Cook (Meet the Spartans).

Rudd stars as Peter Klaven an uptight realtor who realizes he doesn’t have any male friends. Really this is the whole problem of the film — it forces characters who just want to hang out and have a good time through the artificial complications of an introductory screenwriting class. When nudging the mushy stock plot along the actors deliver exposition through gritted teeth. The more than capable comic cast that includes Rashida Jones Andy Samberg and two thirds of the sketch comedy group Human Giant just go through the motions and try to squeeze in comedy between plot points. Rudd especially barely stifles his contempt whenever he needs to service his tight-assed straight-man character.

Then for a moment Hamburg looks away to consult the script and Rudd gets to revel in his improvisations — like doing a run of bad accents or awkward James Bond poses. He really comes to life when paired with Segal and the two are left alone to riff. That’s when the real comedy happens: Rudd and Segal riffing on the title of the movie Rudd and Segal riffing on Canadian rock heroes Rush Rudd and Segal riffing on masturbation. That’s what we want to watch: two charismatic comic actors at the top of their game instead of stumbling through some unmotivated miscommunication or whatever rote bullshit the script calls for. This is what separates this imitator from a real Apatow film.

Apatow is willing to let plot fall to the wayside for his cast to explore and find their jokes. We get to watch that process unfold and take part in the joy of the experience. It brings about a certain energy and charm that elevates his films. In I Love You Man Hamburg wants so desperately to move the plot along that he cuts his scenes too early not giving his performers the time to develop those jokes or characters. So we’re left with the shape of an Apatow film that for brief moments seems like the genuine thing. And then it becomes the new film directed and written by the guy who did Along Came Polly and whose name you’ll never remember.

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