This issue: A buddy comedy with two of the funniest actors in movies today, and a look at the great career of a filmmaker the world recently lost.
I Love You, Man
(R, Now available)
There's a certain kind of girl known as a man's woman--the kind of woman whose friends all seem to be guys because she relates more to them than she does to other women.
What you don't hear about as often is the woman's man. The kind of guy who's a great boyfriend and gets along well with women wherever he goes, but just can't seem to relate to other men. Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is that kind of guy.
When Peter gets engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones from "The Office"), she spends the remainder of the evening-hours--calling all of her closest friends. But when Zooey asks who Peter wants to call, he really doesn't have an answer. When we see him at work the next day, he's clearly more at ease talking to his female co-workers than he is with Tevin (Rob Huebel), who just makes crass remarks and forwards filthy Internet videos.
Worried that he won't even have a best man for the wedding, Peter decides he needs to make some friends. His brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) suggests setting up some "man dates" in an attempt to find a friend. And so Peter's incredibly awkward journey begins.
In less capable hands, this is a character that would come off as a loser, maybe even a little creepy. But Rudd makes us feel for Peter. He's a nice guy that would make friends easily if he just didn't try so hard. Just when he's about to give up, he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). The two instantly connect. Peter appreciates Sydney's honesty and Sydney is impressed with Peter's choice of sandwich. At first Zooey is excited for Peter, but the road ahead is going to get a little bumpy.
Written and directed by John Hamburg (atoning for the dreadful "Along Came Polly"), "I Love You, Man" is funny, highly quotable, funny, endlessly entertaining, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. Rudd and Segel are so perfect together, whether they're playing Rush songs in Sydney's man cave or running afoul of an angry Lou Ferrigno, that you're left with a smile that will last a long time. These two bring the characters fully to life. Sydney could have come off as psychotic, but Segel plays him as a guy with a big heart who just happens to have a few anger issues, and who occasionally puts his foot in his mouth (which hurts Peter more than it hurts him).
"I Love You, Man" is simply a lot of fun. Rudd and Segel obviously had a great time playing their roles and the audience can't help but feed off of it. Whether you're seeing it with your girlfriend, your boyfriend, or your best friend, "I Love You, Man" is a movie you will love...man. 8.5/10.
John Hughes (1950 - 2009):
The world has seen many talented writers, directors, actors and actresses come and go. Their work leaves a mark on the world of film and television, and sometimes manages to stand the test of time long after they're gone. What separates John Hughes from so many others isn't that his talent was the greatest the world has ever known. A great filmmaker he was, but David Lean or Stanley Kubrick he was not. What made Hughes unique, and what's so significant about the man we just recently lost at the young age of 59, is that John Hughes was a brand. Think teen comedies. Just think movies in general during the 1980s. John Hughes is the first name that comes to mind.
Beginning as a writer on sitcoms in the late seventies, Hughes also penned such comedies as "Mr. Mom" and "Vacation," before settling in the director's chair for the first time in 1984. The film, which he had also written, was "Sixteen Candles," the story of a girl's (Molly Ringwald) very memorable sixteenth birthday. Somehow I don't think anyone realized at the time that movies would never be the same. I certainly didn't, but I was two.
Hughes followed "Sixteen Candles" with "The Breakfast Club" (considered by many to be THE definitive high school movie), the script for "Pretty in Pink," and my personal favorite, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Not surprisingly, these four films share common traits. Not only do they deal with high school students, all are deceptively low-key. None of them seem terribly important at first glance. They were made for teenagers in the mid-eighties. Everything associated with the era is all over these films. They're dated, they're simple, and they were probably considered by most above the age of 25 to be disposable pieces of entertaining fluff upon their release. It is exactly those qualities that have enabled these movies to hold up.
All are funny, but each of these movies has a heart and characters that are well-developed and likeable. Hughes also didn't underestimate the importance of relatability. Everyone who watches "The Breakfast Club" can relate to one of those five kids, whether they're in high school or looking back on it. And while Matthew Broderick's Ferris Bueller is a wonderful character, it's Alan Ruck's Cameron Frye that makes that film what it is.
Hughes didn't direct many more films after "Ferris." The most notable was the classic buddy comedy, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," and he kept busy writing and producing until his death of a heart attack. But Hughes left his indelible mark between 1984 and 1986 as the man who made teen movies that stand the test of time.
He reminded us, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it."