“I Love You Man” (John Hamburg) – SXSW 2009 Opening Film
One of the biggest challenges that the producers of most film festivals face is choosing the feature film for opening night. SXSW scored high in picking “I Love You Man.”
Films can have an all-star cast, but without all the writing, chemistry, direction, production and editing stars aligning, the project falls into the straight to DVD category. “I Love You Man” did pull it all together, with their team, including the film’s writer and director John Hamburg. This is why I think that the film will not only be a hit at the festival, but across the country when it hits theaters on March 20.
Said all-star cast includes Paul Rudd, whose career includes “Knocked Up,” “40-Year Old Virgin,” “Anchor Man,” and one of my all-time favorites, “Role Models.” But as Peter Klaven, a woman’s man and fresh-faced real estate agent in Los Angeles, he’s taken his comedic and acting talent to a whole new level.
His fiancé in the film, Zooey, played by Rashida Jones from The Office, realizes that while she’s got plenty of gal pals to be in their upcoming wedding. Peter on the other hand, all his friends have always been women. Intentionally or otherwise, that’s posed a problem.
Peter turns to his brother for advice, played by the always adorable Andy Samberg, after their mom has set up Peter to meet someone. The brother’s advice is to not make it look like a date, to go see a movie like “The Devil Wears Prada,” by which Peter exclaims, “Oh I looove that movie!”
Unfortunately for Peter, but hilarious for us, his pursuit of a bromance is much like dating.
Tremendous News (one of my favorite blogs about, well, lots of things) explains the concept of a bromance this way, “…bromance is such a strong play for us. We’re going out of our way to be friends with someone. We don’t want to be rejected. We’re nervous. We’re trying to impress. We’re doing all the things we usually do around women we want to score with. Except for the scoring part.”
So Peter had to kiss a few frogs (literally on one of his “dates”) before he found his prince, which turns out to be Sydney Fife, played by Jason Segel. Jason is a man’s man, making his own rules and telling it straight, but also has a soft side that matches Peter’s sensitively. The two also bond in a traditional sense, including their love for rocking out to Rush, and to “schlappin the bass, schlappin the ba-hase” in Sydney’s man cave. Peter even gets flustered in asking Sydney to hangout, making up his own vocabulary in the process (“joben” and “totes magotes”) during his nervous inquisitions.
With each scene, the story turns and weaves, keeping us intrigued and crying in our soda, inciting moments to slap your friend next to you while doubling up with laughter. One such example was the altercation between Peter’s client, Lou Ferrigno (who plays himself) and Sydney, who is coming to Peter’s rescue on the Venice boardwalk when they discover Mr. Ferrigno attempting to take his business to a slimy co-worker at the real estate firm.
The women also contribute their talent to the mix, including Jaime Pressley from My Name Is Earl, as Zooey’s best friend, and her fight-love-fight marriage to her husband, played by Jon Favreau.
I moved over to Buffalo Billards, which was the opening party for the film festival. Paul Rudd was supporting the fest with his presence, and there was quite the cake, commemorating the 16th birthday for the film festival. Good times, but after a bit, it was time to call it a day.