A Thin Line Between "Love" and Hate


I Love You Too - 2010
Written by Peter Helliar
Directed by Daina Reed

I have watched and enjoyed no small number of movies about developmentally arrested and emotionally stunted men who, by the grace of a love well beyond their deserving, manage to grow up ju-u-ust enough to hold onto women far better than them.  It's pretty much the foundation of much of what we consider "guy comedies" or "romantic comedies you can get your selfish-ass boyfriend to go to."  The Tao of Steve is still an independent classic, as far as I'm concerned.  Kevin Smith, of course, has built a fairly successful career on this premise.  Judd Apatow has created or backed several of the pillars of the sub-genre, but even has been growing out of it.

And I think maybe I just did too.

I don't know if it's just that the tropes of the sub-genre are starting to wear thin for me, or if I Love You Too just played them so ham-handedly that I'm kind of put-off by the whole idea in general -- sort of the way that it can take a long time before you can eat a certain food again after throwing it up.

I Love You Too is an Australian "guy comedy" about an idiot, and the way-too-good-for-him woman who loves him for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  The idiot in question is Jim (Brendan Cowell), who easily pulls one-night stands (unbeknownst to the women involved until he doesn't call) despite a complete absence of personality.  I suppose he's affable, particularly in comparison to his perpetual wing man and even bigger, tackier idiot, Blake (Peter Helliar).  On one of these instances, he effortlessly picks up Alice, and surprisingly, three years later they're still together.  Alice is professional, stunningly gorgeous, and seemingly intelligent if you completely overlook her three year relationship with a clueless man-child.

Push finally comes to shove when Alice allows the lives of others to raise the question of "where this is going" with Jim, and Jim can't even say that he loves her.  She dumps him on his birthday which, I guess is supposed to make us feel badly for him, but he totally deserved. So Jim goes on a bender with waiting-in-the-wings-man, Blake.  Deeply intoxicated, Jim decides to "borrow" a car but can't get his head together enough to get it out of parallel parking.  Before he passes out, he finds a letter in the car, and reads it.

He's awakened the next morning by the car's owner, Charlie (Peter Dinklage) knocking on the window.  This leads to a thoroughly unlikely friendship with Charlie attempting to tutor Jim on the expression of adult emotions as a path to winning back the girlfriend he was never good enough for in the first place.  Jim wants Charlie to teach write him help him teach him how to write the same kind of love letter that he found in the car.  Charlie tries to explain that it has to come from an examination of one's true thoughts and feelings, and there's the rub.  Jim doesn't HAVE thoughts or feelings.

If "the unexamined life is not worth living" what makes it worth watching?

The reason I was watching this movie in the first place was Peter Dinklage, and in that singular way, I was not disappointed.  Charlie was a great character.  I would gladly watch a whole movie just about his character, and indeed, he felt like he belonged in an entire other movie.  He was intelligent and thoughtful, with a mature range of emotions and a much stronger personal story.

Everyone else sucked as human beings.  I hated them almost as much as the end of the movie hated its viewers.  Jim does the ABSOLUTE LEAST he can do, and Alice falls for it.  Jim's hard-to-take wing man Blake hooks up with Alice's hard-to-take wing woman because yes, it's THAT lazy.  And the ONE good guy suddenly drops dead as soon as he's no longer advancing the loser moron's narrative.  It's hard to even conceive that the same screenwriter who created Charlie and put him in a movie would have come up with all these other horrible people.  One would have to hide out beneath the bleachers during a workshop about constipation at a nudist colony to find this many useless assholes in one place.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who won't have the problems I had with the film.  They, however, are a problem for society.  Any man seeing this and allowing it to add to his impression that it's okay to be THAT stupid and closed-off while believing that he's worthy of a good woman's love is a problem.  Any woman seeing this and thinking that it's reasonable to settle for a grown-ass man THAT personally clueless just because he has a nice smile is a problem.  We, as a culture desperately struggling to grow the fuck up, need better standards for our men, better standards for our women, better standards for what we classify as "love," and better standards for our movies.

Yes, some -- some -- of the funny parts were funny.  No, that didn't make this bullshit sandwich any more palatable.

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