“And give me two tickets to Sunshine Cleaning.”
Lame joke, but you know I ran with it at the box office when we went to see I Love You, Man. They put up with me.
Male friendship is a popular topic here on the ‘strom, and here we have an interesting cinematic example. This movie is a romantic comedy, except the leads are two heterosexual platonic friends.
And, hey, ladies! The women in this movie are not jerks!
The story concerns Peter Klaven (the omnipresent Paul Rudd) who is a milquetoast-y real estate agent who has just proposed to girlfriend Zooey (“The Office”’s Rashida Jones) and realized that he has no candidate for Best Man. Seems Peter is more comfortable with women than with men.
His initial attempts at finding male companionship are unsuccessful, if not exactly hilarious. The humor here is really not broad; the movie stays realistic and tackles the issues in a fairly straight manner. Rudd does a good job being awkward at male-male relations.
Things get funnier when he meets Sydney Fife (the formerly fully frontally nude Jason Segel of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), who takes a shine to him and invites him on some “man-dates”. Sydney leads the life of the consummate bachelor and, if possible, Rudd is even more awkward than ever.
I liked this part. Peter doesn’t really know how to appropriate greet his new male friend, and in trying to be cool says things that are not real words. At one point, trying to come up with a nickname for Sydney, he calls him “Jopen”. There’s a lot of stuff like that, but Sydney rolls with all of it as Peter gets up to speed.
So, if you wanted to be hack about this, how do you create the tension? Well, you’d start making Peter’s fiancee jealous. The very cool thing about this movie is that fiancee Zooey never really gets jealous. What happens instead is that Peter finds himself just as ill-equipped to manage the needs of both people as they arise.
This happens at a Rush concert. So, if you like Rush, it’s got that going for it, too.
This culminates in a second act where the issue of trust becomes paramount. The hero loses his best friend, his girl and his job. (Not literally, but it looks like he’s going to have his dream property sold out from under him.) Having just seen Sunshine Cleaning, where the script never really recovers from the second act crisis, this movie works out very well and believably.
The trap of these movies often fall into is that they make you wonder why the hell the hero is interested in the girl in the first place, but not here. Besides Zooey, Jamie Pressley plays Zooey’s friend Denise, whose boorish husband Barry (John Favreau) refuses to do anything for her unless it results in some kink later on from her. (But even there, we learn that this isn’t quite as it seems.)
Zooey’s biological-clock-is-ticking sister Haley (Sarah Burns) has eyes for Sydney, but he’s not interested in settling down, but the movie avoids making her pathetic, and calls the eternal bachelor in his issues, without insisting he end up married at the end.
The movie’s about the two of them. And, rather sweetly, features callbacks to all the guys whom Peter didn’t bond quite as well with.
Although it has much of the feel of an Apatow movie, it’s mostly not as raunchy (the raunch is verbal and a lot less outrageous)–and, as I said, a lot more female friendly.
The Boy liked it. I had thought about not taking him, since there’s a fair amount of sex talk in it, but I didn’t find myself cringing. (He, of course, was not bothered at all.) He made the comparison between the more loosy-goosy Sunshine and this.
And I liked the message: It’s okay to be best friends with your girlfriend, and it’s okay to have guy friends, too. But most importantly, you have to communicate with both.
Oh, yeah, and Lou Ferigno looks great and not at all like he’s pushing 60.