It's been just over ten years since John Hamburg's "Safe Men" was released. If you haven't seen that film, it's on DVD right now, and I highly recommend tracking down a copy. It's a great small quirky comedy with Steve Zahn, Paul Giamatti, and Sam Rockwell, and it's one of those movies that I've probably pushed on more friends over the years than I can count. And every single time, the person who I give it to ends up loving it. As a result, I've been interested in whatever Hamburg's up to since then. He's co-written both "Meet The Parents" and "Meet The Fockers," and right now, he's working on a draft of "The Little Fockers." But him as a writer/director is what interests me more, and this weekend, he's got a film in general release that I think justifies that ongoing interest on my part, and which confirms Paul Rudd as one of the most deranged and subversive mainstream male leads working right now.
"I Love You, Man" is about a guy named Peter Klaven (Rudd) who has managed to go from girlfriend to girlfriend his entire life, never really forming any close male friendships as a result. I know guys like this, serial monogamists. And they do vanish into their relationships, almost as if they're afraid that any outside influence will destroy whatever relationship they have with the girl. When Klaven pops the questions to his girlfriend Zooey (the preposterously cute Rashida Jones), he realizes he's going to need a best man, and that's what kicks off his quest to find a new friend, someone he can legitimately ask to stand next to him on the most important day of his life. If you've seen any movie ever in your entire life, you can guess that it won't be easy, and that Sydney Fife (Jason Segal) isn't going to be the easiest guy in the world to deal with. And, admittedly, narrative innovation isn't what "I Love You, Man" is all about. Instead, the film provides a simple framework to explore the idea of how we define "normal" masculine behavior, and whether or not there's some value in playing the social roles that we're supposed to play. It's a smart comedy with plenty of broad, outrageous moments to keep things light.
[more after the jump]