Somewhere back in the day, two men took divergent paths. One became one of the most recognizable “nice guy” actors of our time. He plays the nice Jewish boy all Jewish mothers hope and wish for. Granted, he’s rarely a lawyer or doctor, and is often a bit of a wet blanket, but in the end he proves to be that mensch we all wish we could be. The other started off a comedian, made a terrible actor and instead became the smart, snarky liberal funnyman of our generation. He’s the nice Jewish boy whose mother shakes her head and asks why he can’t be more like that nice boy, Paul Rudd. But for all of us out there who identify with these two men, we are so much more often the smart-mouthed Jon Stewart than we are the former. Much to our mother’s chagrin.
I had a job many years ago at which I was tortured on a daily basis both in person by my boss and over the phone by all sorts of Hollywood types who were mostly pissed at my boss, but often took it out on his surrogates out of frustration. During my five or six months on the job, I remember two particular people who were nice to me. One of those people was Paul Rudd. The dude was truly a mensch. So I automatically have a soft spot in my heart for the guy. Ms. Hipster happens to also like him because he’s a not-so-tall, nice Jewish boy. Just her type, I guess. She also happens to like Stewart, the smiling devil to Rudd’s angel. The secret to Rudd’s angel is his easy charm and believability as that guy. We all know that guy. He’s super smart, funny, a little insecure and self-deprecating, but ultimately someone you’re ultimately glad to have as a friend. And that’s the dude he plays in this movie.
A dude with no dude friends. How does something like this happen? Well, there’s one way, which usually ends with said dude waking up one morning and realizing that he’s just avoiding what’s really going on and ends up changing his name to Feerce and becoming a cage dancer at The Water Works (or some similarly named club). And the other is a complete myth after the age of 30. Why? Because after 30, most women have paired off and have no need for said dude, or else said dude has found a steady who will in no subtle way demand that these relationships fade to black. Think of your friends. Engaged, non-closeted guy with nothing but female friends. Nothing, right?
So the movie begins on a flawed premise. Granted, science fiction banks on the same methodology, so I suppose I can suspend belief for a bit. Reality aside, the premise has some legs in terms of comic set-ups. Rudd is getting married and realizes he has nobody to ask to be his best man. I’m not sure why he doesn’t just ask his brother, but I suppose that would make for a pretty dull movie. He’s set up on several “man dates,” with varying degrees of success and gayness. But, as we all know, Rudd eventually ends up meeting and hanging out with Jason Segel who, despite also being one of the tribe, is one of those weird, giant ones that they must have grown in a German lab somewhere back in the 40s. And predictably Rudd, the nice guy, and Segel, the free spirit, teach each other about the two sides of life. It’s a shame, really, as this falls into the same trap that most goofball buddy comedies fall into, where the narrative line is predictable and rote up and down. Everything is good, everything is bad, everybody is a dick and then in the end there’s a group hug. Yeay!
So knowing that this is how things go, the point to judge these types of movies on is how they string together the acts with jokes. I honestly hate that shit, but this is why I’m disappointed in most movies. This one certainly has some laugh out loud moments, but more that are just awkward. Actually the funniest thing in the whole movie seemed like Rudd just ad-libbing his air-bass and trying to execute a Jamaican accent (for no particular reason). Otherwise it seemed like somebody had an idea, paired a couple of talented, comic actors and hoped for the best. Sometimes it just takes a little more effort, man.