I Love You Man
R
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -4

Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin, Jon Favreau and Jamie Pressly. Comedy. Written by John Hamburg. Directed by John Hamburg.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Peter Klaven is a successful real estate agent who, upon getting engaged to the woman of his dreams, Zooey, discovers, to his dismay and chagrin, that he has no male friend close enough to serve as his Best Man. Peter immediately sets out to rectify the situation, embarking on a series of bizarre and awkward "man-dates," before meeting Sydney Fife, a charming, opinionated man with whom he instantly bonds. But the closer the two men get, the more Peter's relationship with Zooey suffers, ultimately forcing him to choose between his fiancée and his newfound "bro," in a story that comically explores what it truly means to be a "friend."

PREVIEW REVIEW: There’s a theory that if you put a frog in hot water, he’ll jump out; but if you put him in cool water then slowly turn up the fire, he’ll cook himself to death. In a manner of speaking, that may be happening to social standards thanks to media minions who continually heat up the culture (not so slowly) with an abundance of vulgarity. Society is also bombarded by excesses in sexual promiscuity, numbing amounts of violence, and an incessant use of jolting special effects. Here, however, we’ll focus on this film’s arena of assault - crudity.

Honestly, I’m not trying to sound pious or snobbish. I just keep wondering how much cruder things are going to become, and where the coarsing-down of man fits in with biblical standards. After listening to the boisterous response from the screening audience of I Love You Man, I began to fear that I was one of a dying breed that shudders at the excesses with which Hollywood uses to entertain.

Certainly, much of comedy comes from broad, over-the-top, I-can’t-believe-I-just-saw-that behavior. But it seems that ever since the Porky’s films, There’s Something About Mary, and the American Pie(s), outlandish outhouse antics have become the main ingredients in screen comedies.

Here’s an example from I Love You Man. The Jason Segel character walks his dog on the sidewalks of Venice Beach, refusing to pick up the poop, excusing his laziness with the erroneous belief that the dog’s feces is good for the environment (even on cement?) and oblivious to the objections of those who have stepped in it. Indeed, the pooper parody becomes a running gag. Three times we actually see the pup relieve himself, followed by someone slipping on it, then reacting in a profane manner.

And we’re supposed to believe that Paul Rudd’s up-and-coming Malibu Beach-based real estate salesman would settle upon this rather self-indulgent, society-snubbing Neanderthal as a choice for best friend?

The story concept is creative, and actually somewhat relatable. In our stressed-out world it is difficult to maintain friendships. Sooner or later, everyone goes their own way, and the phone calls and get-togethers become fewer and fewer until our friendships are in name only. What’s more, it can be argued that the plot premise is based on behavioral patterns, a source from which many a great comedian has found satire. However, the biggest laugh responses in this comedy come from ongoing conversations about masturbation and oral sex, as well as visuals of projectile vomiting and the aforementioned dog dumpings. Please forgive my bluntness of the content relating, but I had to make the point that this is now accepted movie comedy practice and that people are willing to pay hard earned money for such entertainment fodder.

The performers involved are talented, occasionally showcasing their adroitness at maneuvering through wacky situations. Every once in a while, after running out of poop jokes, they amaze us with wit, comic timing and even some insight on human relationships. But the cast, the film’s makers and the studio heads seem nervous about straying too far from the pungent ingredients that make up the majority of today’s comic screen recipes.

There seems no crevice of the human or animal body today’s comedy writers will not invade in order to get a shocked response from the now desensitized movie-going audience. I weep for the future of the genre.

DVD Alternative: The Odd Couple. A very funny Neil Simon comedy about two very different men (Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau) living together out of necessity and friendship.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount

Summary
Crude Language: Many earthy, coarse, gross and tactless conversations make up most of the dialogue; at a classy location, the second lead converses about the passing of wind – and trust me, that’s not how he refers to it; drawn out conversations about sexual activity.
Obscene Language: All the leads use the f-word to complete simple declarative sentences; around 70 uses of the f- and s-words.
Profanity: Several “oh my God’s” and one use of God’s name followed by a curse.
Violence: A man threatens a dog walker for not cleaning up, a brief brawl ensues.
Sexual Intercourse: For a film that talks about it so much, I’m a bit surprised or relieved that the filmmakers didn’t feel it necessary to incorporate sexual situations.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: The lead’s brother is gay and discusses relationships with men; the lead goes out on a “man date” unaware that the fellow is gay – he learns the hard way at the end of the evening when the character kisses him.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Throughout
Drug Abuse: Some drinking; the lead and his fellow card players get drunk, this causes him to vomit.
Other: None
Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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