Darkness absconds with the clarity of my thoughts. For a moment, there is nothing. There is no sound, no sight, no taste, and no control. I am powerless. Suddenly, there is a flash of an image, but as quickly as it has appeared, it has vanished from sight and I am left to struggle with what I have just witnessed.
You may be wondering why I am beginning a film criticism of a movie in this manner. Well, to be honest, this is the best way to describe my feelings of I Love You, Man…
Dreams leave me wanting more. I am taken on a journey, but yet that journey never seems complete when I wake up. There was still more to do. There have been characters who I have met in my nightly visitations with a (distant?) reality that have sparked something within me, but who have then vanished from sight without ever allowing me to truly understand them. There have been moments of clarity and amusement, but they are then contaminated by the images that have baffled me. Then there is the moment when I wake up. The images seem so vivid and alive, and I can recount them without hesitation. But, as the day wears on, I struggle to remember what I have been a part of, and eventually, after a few days, have completely forgotten everything about the experience.
This is a perfect explanation of how I felt after leaving the theatre for I Love You, Man. There were some moments of great enjoyment and amusement, but I was left wanting more afterwards. This film had a tremendous amount of potential going for it, but yet somehow managed to undermine its own intentions.
For all the times that I laughed, there were more times when I felt bewildered and confused. I guess my major discrepancy with the picture was that it was only sporadically funny. To me, it seemed as if the film was more focused on the parts rather than the whole. In other words, it didn’t seem too concerned with telling a great story, but rather it strived to entertain though amusing sequences (which unfortunately, happened too little throughout the films’ running time).
When I pay money to see a film, I am paying to be entertained. The only way I can be entertained is if I am connected to the characters I have invested my time in. I Love You, Man has many characters, but they are not real. They don’t act realistically, and they do not act in a realistic context. They are simply plot devices added to create laughter. By not acting in a normal manner, they are then left to exist in a world of their own merits. They are not in the film to depict a particular reality, but rather are there to entertain us, the viewer. By becoming nothing more than caricatures, they come off as mere exaggerations of an intended reality, which doesn’t sit well with audience members.
Comedy is meant to entertain, and the comedic situations arise out of moments of realism. That is what makes comedy films funny in the first place. By allowing the audience to understand that this could happen, prods them to accept what is about to happen.
I understand that comedy is an exaggerated genre. To provoke laughs, comedy must sometimes go to accelerated lengths. I Love You, Man refuses to take those accelerated risks. Rather, everything about the film comes off as forced-the dialogue, the situations, the acting. The film strives to be funny, but remains situated in a classically structured and predictable plotline. Add to the fact that the pacing of the film is sluggish and certain scenes end awkwardly really tends to disconnect me as a viewer.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, I did not totally despise the film. Jason Segal as the comedic fall guy and Paul Rudd as the straight man play well off one another. They were great with one another in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and continue their trend here. Though they don’t have much support from the rest of the cast, nor from the script; Andy Samberg, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressley, and J.K. Simmons are given precious little to do, which all but sabotages what could have been a great comedic ensemble film (I wanted to know more about these people, but they vanished before I was able to comprehend who they truly were).
I Love You, Man is watchable, but just once. I will never watch the film again. It saddens me to say this because I was really looking forward to seeing the film. The audience was great during the show, and my popcorn was even better. It’s too bad the film didn’t live up to my buttery kernels.
It has only been 15 hours since I have seen the film and already the images are vacating the premises of my mind. Just as a dream, the images will soon be gone. I will have quickly forgotten the film in mere hours, and, to be honest, that may not be a negative thing.