Scene and heard

While the newly coined term “bromance” is silly, it is refreshing to see movies concerned with the trials and tribulations of male friendship. That is why I enjoyed the recently opened flick, I Love You Man, so much.

But unlike other similar films such as Knocked Up, the characters in I Love You Man are more well-rounded and believable; the friendships, especially between co-stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, seem real and natural.

What surprised me even more, however, is how strong the female characters are in this film. Remember how Katherine Heigl, the star of Knocked Up, complained that the movie she headlined was sexist?

“It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys,” she told Vanity Fair in December 2007.

Heigl’s statement about Knocked Up is warranted, but luckily, this is not the case for I Love You Man. The two main female characters, Zooey and Denise (Rashida Jones and Jaime Pressly) are both portrayed very positively; they are funny and in control of their lives and of their romantic relationships.

My favorite aspect of the film, actually, is the relationship between Denise and her husband Barry (Jon Favreau), who despite their love, constantly argue with each other.

“They’re madly in love with each other, but there’s a fight of whose gonna wear the pants,” Jaime Pressly said about their relationship at a press junket held on March 8.

“They both want to wear the pants, they both want to be in control and they both are extremely strong-minded and strong-willed individuals. And at the end of the day, she wears the pants.”

Zooey doesn’t put up with Peter’s (Rudd) shenanigans, either-she leaves him and moves in with Denise and Barry when he starts spending more and more time with his new best friend. Peter obviously realizes he was a moron and ditches his “bro-mantic” partner, Sydney, (Jason Segel) in order to save his relationship with his fiancé.

It is a really nice change of pace in a comedy of this vein to have the main female character stand up for herself and not put up with her fiancé’s ridiculous behavior. Even better, the guy actually realizes he did something wrong and apologizes for it.

Jones even said that what first attracted her to this project was the fact that Zooey is “a well-rounded character” with a “strong point of view.”

She noted that that director and screenwriter, John Hamburg “clearly really likes women and has a lot of respect for them.”

After interviewing Hamburg at the press junket, it is apparent that he does have a lot of admiration for women.

“To me, I don’t think men/women, I just think people,” he said. “I think women are just as funny, if not funnier than men.”
Maybe what makes these female characters seem so real is that Hamburg didn’t claim to be an expert about women while making the film.

He spoke about one scene in particular-a “girls’ night,” with Zooey, Denise and their group of girl friends and how he let the female actresses guide that scene.

“They really fill in the blanks, because I don’t pretend to know how women speak,” he said. “I have an idea and I listen in on a lot of people’s conversations, but still, they have their own life experience, and I would say ‘guys, what would you really talk about?'”

When I first walked in to the screening of I Love You Man, I was expecting a typical guy comedy that wouldn’t really pay much attention to the female characters. But I was pleasantly surprised that the film didn’t take that path; it is refreshing to see women portrayed as not only strong-willed, but funny and fun-loving, too.