Thanks for joining us for the month of January as The Single Dad’s Guide to Life has partnered with Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman. If you have not checked out some of her posts this month, you definitely need to as she covers the topics from that of a single mother. She has been both an inspiration and blessing to me, and I appreciate working with her for this month. So today we decided we would review movies together, which would be dangerous. Actually what we really decided was to review two different films, one that was directed at women, and another directed at men. So while Brandi is reviewing the film Girls Trip, I am going to be reviewing the 2009 romantic comedy I Love You Man.
I admit when choosing to review a film, I was going to have to go back into the archives of “men films” to find something appropriate. I suppose I could have gone with The Hangover or been more up to date with one of the Marvel Adaptations. But I felt like they didn’t really match what we were trying to do here. Besides, I think a woman can appreciate one of the Marvel Universe movies as much as anyone else. And even if I viewed it as films directed towards men, I didn’t feel like the movie was sufficiently about men. It was about superheroes, who just so happened to be men, or gods, or ants. And besides, I get to review a movie with the Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd.
Synopsis of I Love You Man **Spoiler Alert**
Given the fact the film is already 9 years old, I figured giving a synopsis of the film before reviewing was not too bad of an idea. But if you want to watch the film because it sounds cool and you had never heard of it, please check it out on Netflix or find a place to rent it before sitting down to this review. I know I hate being told everything before watching a movie, with the rare exception of the film Glory, which you can check out my review here. So read past here at your own risk. You can skip to what I liked later on.
Peter Klavan (Paul Rudd) thinks his life is all peaches and cream. He is the pre-eminent metrosexual who only connects with the girlfriends he has. And as the film begins, he is forced into hearing a conversation with his fiancée Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones) and her friends about his own “performance.” As he is uncomfortable with what she shares with her friends, she finds out that he doesn’t really have any male friends with which to confide in. And so she encourages him to find some.
Through the machinations of Peter’s younger gay brother Robbie, Peter finds himself in some hilarious situations with all kinds of men. Hilarious results ensue. But just like being set up on a blind date rarely works out, Peter does not connect with any of the men he meets until he runs into Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) at an open house for Lou Ferrigno’s home. The two instantly click, not only as people who appreciate good food and fine art but as fans of the indie rock band Rush.
From here on out, the best-laid plans of mice and men, or rather those of Peter’s fiancée, go awry. Losing connection with her significant other to the hands of Sydney Fife was not how she drew up Peter having friends in her head. And then when Peter begins to question the whole basis of her relationship with him, everything goes off the rails.
Of course, there is the obligatory breakup, although you are never sure which one is worse. And then there is the ensuing makeup, although not in the way you might think. As director John Hamburg keeps it light and fluffy, because how could you honestly have a deep film about men dealing with their emotions? It just wouldn’t ring true. And the rest of the cast adds to the zany bromance including performances by John Favreau, Andy Samberg, and Lou Ferrigno. At the end of the movie, you can say I Love You Man, without even having to be drunk to do it.
4 Reasons Why I Liked I Love You Man –
There is so much to love when it comes to the movie I Love You Man. But I wanted to make sure I specifically had some things to add that dealt with being a man. So I found four important things the movie conveys to men.
It Reveals The Friendless American Male
I actually remember getting this book from my mother when I was in high school. She wanted to make sure I valued my friendships and did not take them for granted. And so she handed me a book called The Friendless American Male. For a long time, the values that Western Civilization has handed down to its male members is independence and self-reliance. I admit, as a guy, it’s hard to ask for anything. And when it comes to friendships, these attitudes make it difficult to maintain anything beyond a surface level connection.
I Love You Man exposes this difficulty for the world to see. Far too often we value people as commodities or a means to an end. But in friendships, you need to find true connection with another human being. It certainly forced me to rethink how I had been viewing my friendships with other people and what I might need to do to encourage them again.
It Doesn’t Shy Away From Men’s Issues
Frequently, films try to avoid controversial topics. Or if there is a controversial topic, they tend to have a very one-sided view of that topic. What I love about I Love You Man is how it takes a very balanced view of everything. And it really focuses on things men struggle with. One of the biggest ways we struggle is to honestly communicate our own feelings. Frequently we ignore them by showing gusto. Or we deflect with humor so we do not tackle the really difficult questions.
Between the characters of Sydney, who deflects problems through humor, and Barry, who feels the need to dominate to avoid honest discussion, the film reflects on men and their insecurities in a real way. The very title of the film expresses the sentiments men feel but don’t seem to express until they are drunk and cannot control themselves. I love how this film honestly tackles the problems we face.
It Shows How Men Actually Bond Without Being Critical
If you have watched commercials or pretty much any artistic venture of late, men have been denigrated to the point of frequently acting like dolts. I think the reason why many men have retreated into watching science fiction movies or superhero flicks is because art seems to be critical of what it means to be a man. With some rare exceptions, men seem to be incapable of solving problems or acting in rational ways. And even when we are intelligent (A Beautiful Mind), we are broken in some extremely significant ways.
I Love You Man, doesn’t look at men and bonding rituals in a critical way. It shows their connection to Rush not only to be fun, but meaningful and significant. The two start up a band, which allows Peter to express his freedom more. And it also allows them both to tap into their own artistic expression. The fiancée, despite being put off by the zaniness of the happenings at the Rush concert, could sense the deeper connection built through the music. And initially, she felt threatened by it. This took seriously the connections men make and how they make them. And it showed these connections can be real and long-lasting.
It Didn’t Make Out Sydney To Be The Devil To The Fiancée’s Angel
As I said previously, men are frequently the dolts of artistic expression. And when they aren’t dolts they are evil masterminds plotting the downfall of their fellow man. Frequently the male sidekick exists to get the other male in trouble. The only thing that reconciles him, in the end, is the shame that happens to him for doing whatever it was that he did. But honestly, aside from being a bit sophomoric about relationships (a trait he admits to himself), Sydney mostly influences Peter in positive ways.
First, he gets him to be open and honest about his wants and desires with his fiancée. Second, he frees him up to be a man and not a pushover. Third, he gets Peter to think about the reasons why he does things. It’s so easy to do what’s expected of us. But making affirmative choices to do the right thing is far better. Fourth, when he takes out money, he doesn’t use it to blow it on himself. He shows Peter friendship is selfless, even if your friend doesn’t always make the best decisions.
And in the end, the reconciliation of the relationship doesn’t happen simply because the fiancée wants it. Or because some deux ex machina comes in and makes the two come back together. The relationship happens because everyone sees how important it is to them. For Sydney, he needs real companionship with someone who encourages him to be a better human being. For Peter, he needs the companionship of someone who will help him to see some larger truths in life. And for Zooey, she sees the need for male bonding between Peter and Sydney to be something important to both men as well as for the success of her own future marriage. This is why I love I Love You Man.
My Final Grade:
I could list reasons why I didn’t think the movie was perfect. Certainly not every note struck was right on. But I liked it so much, and felt the importance of some of the positive images being struck, I didn’t feel the need to spend time taking it down a peg simply because I wanted to. What I will say is that the movie touched me. And I give an over-all rating of 3 ½ out of 4 Stars.
Overall Rating: 3 ½ of 4 Stars
Continue The Conversation –
So what kinds of movies do you think are guy movies? And what movies put out a positive message to other people out there? Do you think superhero movies are guy flicks? And do you think romantic comedy movies are chick flicks? I love films, so I am always curious as to what films people like, and how people classify certain films.
Like / Follow Me –
If you liked this post, please feel free to check out some of the other movie reviews I have put out there. And definitely, like this post at the end. Also, don’t forget to check out the review to Girls Trip by Brandi at her blog. And definitely subscribe to us here at the guide to get up to date information about all the happenings here. Thank you for stopping by.
Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life