20 August 2009 | bob the moo
Delivers what it sets out to do with an easy to watch comedy
Paul Rudd has managed to do a good job of delivering a solid "normal guy" comic lead in comedies that are amusing if not particularly amazing. This is not a criticism though because I do find the films he has been in recently to be perfectly enjoyable, with a consistent comic air and a good handful of laughs spread across a plot that, while not engaging or amazing, is not offensively simple or crass either. This track record is what brought me to I Love You Man because I felt like I knew what to expect from the film and also that I was fairly confident that it would meet my expectations and maybe even be a bit better than I expected. I'm not trying to say that if it was weak that I could enjoy it because I thought it would be weak and was prepared for that, but just that the film needs to deliver what it proposes to do and satisfy on those terms – which given how many poor comedies and blockbusters come out of Hollywood, is not as easy as it sounds.
Fortunately, ILYM does do this and it does it in a way that will please the majority of viewers. The plot is simple and sets up the obvious gags but does also produce a solid "bromance" narrative, which is enjoyable while not saying much more than the basics about the nature of modern men. What helps it a great deal is that it is funny. The tone of it is well maintained and it did keep me in the mood to laugh, which is half the battle. It manages this through the main characters being likable in the most part as well as having plenty of pretty funny asides or episodes based on plot or character, which are again delivered well by a cast containing endless faces that will be familiar to anyone who watches US comedy on even a semi-regular basis.
I'm not sure that Paul Rudd is close to being an all-round leading man type of actor but certainly this type of film (like some of his other recent turns) plays to his strengths. He is comically awkward but yet also keeps the audience with him by being easy to like – helped by the film being light on crude or crass comedy, which can put me off some characters. He works well with TV comedian Segel, who is perhaps a less engaging and likable character but does convince within it and is funny. Beyond the two of them everyone else is pretty much in a supporting role and, as well as having lots of famous faces, they do mostly deliver laughs in "asides". Pressly and Favreau are both very good at this and steal a lot of scenes. I liked The Office's Jones turn as the fiancé as I generally like her delivery. There are many other faces to recognise (such as Simmons, Samberg, Curtin, Chaandrasekhar, Ferrigno, Wilmore) and some of them do provide value even if others only provide a face.
Overall though, ILYM delivers what it sets its stall out to do – which is a gentle and funny comedy that is easy to watch and entertaining even if it is fleeting and not particularly memorable as a film in and of itself. Rudd plays to his strengths and provides the thin plot with a likable and engaging core, while the material is very funny at best and amusing at worst. Not a classic by any means but it has laughs and it has charm.