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I Love You, Man DVD Review

I Love You, Man movie poster I Love You, Man

Theatrical Release: March 20, 2009 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: John Hamburg / Writers: Larry Levin (story & screenplay), John Hamburg (screenplay)

Cast: Paul Rudd (Peter Klaven), Jason Segel (Sydney Fife), Rashida Jones (Zooey Rice), Andy Samberg (Robbie Klaven), J.K. Simmons (Oswald Klaven), Jane Curtin (Joyce Klaven), Jon Favreau (Barry), Jaime Pressly (Denise), Rob Huebel (Tevin Downey), Thomas Lennon (Doug), Sarah Burns (Hailey), Lou Ferrigno (Himself), Murray Gershenz (Mel Stein), Joe Lo Truglio (Lonnie (Voice Crack Guy), Mather Zickel (Gil), Aziz Ansari (Eugene), Nick Kroll (Larry), Josh Cooke (Alan (Bench Press Guy), Matt Walsh (Impatient Golfer)

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So successful have the comedies of Judd Apatow been that there are now copycat films which aspire to the same blend of raunchy humor and humanity and actually do so starring actors familiar from movies that he directed and/or produced. The phenomenon is interesting enough to ensure the adjective "Apatovian" stays in use for some time.

Following last year's Role Models, the second such beast -- I Love You, Man -- arrived in theaters on 2009's first day of spring. Both star Paul Rudd, a loyal supporting player in the Apatow troupe since 2004's Anchorman. I Love You, Man teams him up with Jason Segel,
whose Apatow history dates all the way back to 1999's too-brilliant-for-TV one-season wonder "Freaks and Geeks." Here, in a reversal of their duties from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which Apatow produced), Rudd plays the normal leading man, while Segel handles the wild, carefree role.

Actually, although Rudd's protagonist Peter Klaven is pretty even-keeled, there's enough to distinguish him from standard everyman heroes. This Los Angeles real estate agent is a bit milquetoast and he's also been so invested in his relationships with that the opposite sex that his male friends are more like acquaintances. Magnifying that fact from curious observation to feature-length issue, the film opens with Peter proposing to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones, "The Office"). Now, Peter has to choose a best man and his prospects -- a gay younger brother (Andy Samberg, "Saturday Night Live"), a brash work colleague (Rob Huebel), and those casually chummy fencing partners (Mather Zickel, Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll) -- are universally dim.

To find a best friend worthy of calling a best man, Peter takes others' advice and reluctantly agrees to a series of man dates, which are like platonic versions of couple dates. These go comedically wrong, but hope is born when Peter meets Sydney Fife (Segel) while hosting an open house. The two men are different in most ways, but they bond over a common appreciation for fish tacos and the band Rush. Not only does the socially awkward Peter soon have a best friend in the laid-back, brutally honest Sydney, but their closeness bothers the excluded Zooey and even puts the wedding plans in question.

Zooey (Rashida Jones) listens as Peter (Paul Rudd) comes clean about his series of man dates. Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd, right) is wowed by the observational powers of Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) after his hunches about an open house guest are seemingly confirmed correct.

I Love You, Man is directed by John Hamburg, who also receives a screenplay credit along with Doctor Dolittle scribe Larry Levin. Hamburg may not have the credibility of Apatow (for whom he directed three episodes of "Undeclared"), but he's no comedy novice, having scripts for Meet the Parents, its blockbuster sequel, and two other Ben Stiller vehicles on his résumé. It is not too surprising then that the filmmaker proves capable and comfortable with the fine material here.
At the same time, Hamburg personally tackles new ground, as Stiller's signature projects have typically been different from and safer than the Apatow hits.

Although Apatow had nothing to do with this movie, his influence on the genre is impossible to miss here. While I Love You, Man has more than enough vulgarity and crudeness to earn its R rating, it is a bit tamer than the others of its ilk. The film doesn't center on sex and the dialogue that does serves to either advance characters and plot or land a joke. Profanity is used fairly liberally, but not unrealistically or indulgently. The most memorable quotes and scenes have almost an innocence to them, as they contrast the two leading men and allow the reliably witty Rudd to try to shed his feminine side and embrace his inner cool dude.

Another staple of Apatow fare -- cinema culture references -- is also upheld, to the film's benefit. Maybe the typical viewer won't appreciate that a key plot point is the selling of "The Incredible Hulk" actor Lou Ferrigno's stately mansion. But Ferrigno's performance as himself certainly qualifies as one of the highlights of his career. And jokey mentions of things like Chocolat, M. Night Shyamalan, and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium also amused me greatly. Think about it and you'll realize these people truly enjoy the industry they're in. It should also enjoy them for the feel-good comedy they've consistently delivered this decade.

Carefree times, like a hands-free Vespa ride, are in order for new best friends Sydney (Jason Segel) and Peter (Paul Rudd). Playing himself Lou Ferrigno shows some of his Incredible Hulk muscle as he puts a disorderly Sydney (Jason Segel) into a sleeper hold.

At the box office, the Apatovian comedies have not reached the heights of the first two films Apatow himself directed (it's looking like Funny People, his latest, won't either), but their earnings have easily surpassed the modest budgets typical for the genre. I Love You, Man emerged narrowly victoriously in what Box Office Mojo dubbed the "Mid-Range Ribald Comedy Clash." Its $71.4 million domestic gross beats the comparable totals of Role Models and Forgetting Sarah Marshall but international attendance hasn't been as strong.

Revealing themselves to be a little more resistant to the "Unrated" gimmick that other studios rarely pass up for an edgy comedy or horror flick, Paramount/DreamWorks bring I Love You, Man to DVD and Blu-ray on August 4th exclusively in the R-rated cut shown in theaters.

Buy I Love You, Man on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Video Extras Subtitled
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.98)
Black Keepcase with Side Snaps
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($29.99 SRP)
Blockbuster Total Access - 2 Week Free Trial

VIDEO and AUDIO

I Love You, Man appears in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby 5.1 sound. As is expected and so often the case, neither picture nor sound stands out either as demo material or troubling. The video is clean and sharp, if a touch darker than natural. The sound is largely limited to the front channels, with the exception of a few amplified non-diegetic soundtrack selections and a performance by Rush, as the comedy world's favorite Canadian rock band makes a cameo amidst character adulation.

Writer/director John Hamburg has a laugh with his two leads and various crew members in "The Making of 'I Love You, Man." If you yearned for more acrid banter between Barry (Jon Favreau) and Denise (Jaime Pressly), you're in luck with their stretch of the "Extras" section. Peter's father Oz (J.K. Simmons) and younger brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) appear in an extended version of a scene from which they're absent in the film.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

A hearty menu of special features begins with an audio commentary that features director/co-writer John Hamburg alongside stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. The trio immediately establishes the track as goofy. It remains active, lively, and filled with jokes and references. At the same time, the chummy speakers do what the format asks, taking us behind the scenes in a screen-specific fashion.
Among the topics covered here are unused/unusable bits (most of which are found elsewhere on the disc) and test audience reactions (this was recorded the Monday before theatrical release).

"The Making of I Love You, Man" (17:27) gives us a fun but telling look at production. Starting with the project's origins and moving to cast, characters and plot, the piece gathers insight about story points, key sequences, and collaborations in on-set and staged interviews. It's an appropriate companion to the feature.

Under the heading "Extras" (22:33), we get nine collections of alternate lines arranged by sequence and/or characters. Besides showing off actors' improvisational talents (none more evident than Rudd's), we get a number of unused show business references (including an on-Vespa duet of the "Facts of Life" theme), some more awkward "Klavenisms", and four minutes of Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressly's Barry and Denise bickering.

Fuller and more film-like are six extended scenes (12:44), which show us some humorous interactions from ladies night, the engagement dinner, tuxedo shopping, the best man offer, and the Rush concert. Last and best is a wedding ceremony interruption that goes on and on about Johnny Depp's work and inspiring food movies.

Peter and his strange collection of groomsmen work with the photographer in this short deleted scene. Rob Huebel's choices for famous client name-dropping have Paul Rudd fighting back laughs in the gag reel. Peter poses as a running groom for Sydney in the main menu's billboard montage.

It's not hard to see why the three deleted scenes (3:20) were cut. They depict a rugby game, a bowling league night, and a groomsmen shoot with a photographer played by actor/director David Wain.

Unless you worked on this movie, the gag reel (11:24) doesn't deliver enough laughs to justify that it runs longer than most. Still, some amusement is gleamed from this collection of chair farts, fights to control laughter, unused ad libs, and foul-mouthed filming breaks.

"Previews" serves up the same three trailers that play upon loading the disc, promoting Road Trip: Beer Pong (a tame red band), Star Trek, and Dance Flick.

Three Easter eggs can be found on the Special Features menu. These are three extremely short deleted snippets, running 8 to 12 seconds each.

The fine animated main menu places its standard montage in a billboard and sets it to some rocking score. Submenus are silent and static.

"Slappin' da bass, mon!" Peter (Paul Rudd) simultaneously demonstrates his talents in air bass and accents. Doug (Thomas Lennon) is about to provide an awkward end to what is thus far Peter's most enjoyable (and misinterpreted) man date.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I Love You, Man is no second rate Judd Apatow knock-off. This funny "bromantic comedy" doesn't rely heavily on dirty words and shock value to win over viewers, instead crafting a creative and fairly intelligent concept movie that soars on the ample talents of Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. It's not exactly full of surprises and if you don't already like these actors and the types of films they make, this won't make you a fan. But I enjoyed it and anticipate revisiting it with some regularity hereon. With a spirited audio commentary and an hour of video bonuses worth seeing, the DVD satisfies without quite surpassing one's expectations.

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Reviewed August 5, 2009.



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