The movie....."is saved by two things."

I Love You, Man

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis



            Although ďI Love You, ManĒ is nearly unwatchable, it is saved by two things. First, by an endearing performance by Paul Rudd as the really nice guy most women want, and second, by addressing male friendship.

            The plot: Peter proposes, ZoŽ accepts; they are ecstatic, and the wedding must be planned. Surrounded by a group of friends with whom she shares everything, ZoŽ has no trouble at all picking her bridesmaids. Peter canít even imagine who he mig ht ask to be his best man. And so he undertakes a search to make a new friend who might qualify.

            At various times in my own family I watched five men wrestle with the same predicament. They make dear husbands, but to get to be a husband they had to find a best man and ushers to meet the requirements of the contemporary American wedding and they came up sputtering. All their friends had been girls. Like Peter, their idea of the heavenly life was to spend evenings with the women they loved, forget men friends.

            So Peter tries to fill the wedding slots. He begins by doing guy things like playing poker, swilling beer, and projectile vomiting. Who to pick? Certainly not the vomit victim who is a beast; nor any of the guys turned up by his gay brother. Just as he begins to understand that ďthere are no rules for male friendships,Ē he meets Sidney (Jason Segel) who becomes his mentor in such things as the etiquette of fist bumps, bongs, bicycles, music and women. Trying mightily to be cool, Peter stumbles on the words and bumbles on the actions of the man world. This is clearly a man who wants to spend his evenings at home with his head on ZoŽís shoulder.

            If all this sounds thin, it is. But then thereís saving grace #2: Paul Rudd. He creates a sweet guy whose love for ZoŽ is simple and complete. When he says ďI want to spend my life with you,Ē he means it absolutely. You know he will help with the kids, watch TV with her in the evenings, and mow the grass on Sundays Ė if only he can find a few guys to stand up for him on20June 30th, the wedding day. Thatís the only suspense in the plot. Bear in mind that Sidneyís mentoring of Peter is soaked in a waterfall of contemporary sex slang and imagery which can be offensive or quite funny depending on your own attitude and considering the content is delivered at warp speed.

            Itís good to see Jane Curtin back in the role of Peterís common sense mother, Joyce. She and her husband Oz (JK Simmons) are good humored parents, a living explanation of why their son is who he is. Peter exposes himself to all manner of garbage in order to like guy stuff before realizing he was right in the first place Ė home with ZoŽ.