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The Trouble With Man Dates

The Trouble With Man Dates (photo)

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The first thing John Hamburg’s “I Love You, Man” teaches us is that the mean time between the Style section of the New York Times heralding a fake trend and the creation of a Hollywood comedy predicated on that fake trend is about four years. It was in April of 2005 that the Times published an article entitled “The Man Date,” which made the staggering observation that two men can have dinner and see a movie and not have sex with each other afterwards. Who knew? All those years I was doing it wrong! No wonder it took me so long to get married to a woman!

Patent ridiculousness of the piece aside, it did, unfortunately, introduce the term “man date” into the urban post-modern vocabulary, and where there’s a catchphrase, there’s usually a high concept waiting to attach itself to it in some film industry pitch meeting. Hence, “I Love You, Man,” directed by Hamburg from a script by himself and Larry Levin, gets quite a few laughs from the “man date” stuff before settling into a slightly more considered but equally funny consideration of het male friendships and their glories and discontents.

The setup is a little strained, though, which is already raising the hackles of those moviegoers Alfred Hitchcock calls “the plausibles.” Man’s protagonist is one Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a moderately successful but struggling-to-go-bigger real estate agent who, upon announcing his engagement to lovely Zooey (Rashida Jones), is revealed by his kvelling family — droll dad J.K. Simmons, slightly ditzy mom Jane Curtin, and hip gay brother Andy Samberg — to have never been much of a man’s man. Therefore, the dilemma of who will serve as Peter’s best man emerges. Here’s where the plausibles get gnarly: “He could ask his dad or his brother! Everybody does that anyway!” Yes, we know. But really, this area isn’t what makes Peter so suddenly and thoroughly insecure about his lack of male friends. No, it’s overhearing a girl’s night convocation of Zooey and her typically “Sex and the City” pals, who opine that Peter’s deficit in this area could mean that he’s some kind of weirdo.

In any case, the search for, um, “bromance” begins, and Peter’s disastrous sojourns involve a poker game hosted by Barry, the husband of one of Zooey’s brasher gal pals (a hilariously hostile Jon Favreau and typically energetic Jaime Pressly, respectively), and a misunderstood evening out with non-heterosexual Doug (the ever-valuable Thomas Lennon) among its comic highlights. Finally, at an open house for the “Ferrigno estate” he’s trying to sell, Paul happens upon canapé-vulture Sydney Fife, with whom he develops an affinity. Sydney is everything Peter is not: brash, vulgar, a bit irresponsible. This being a transformation comedy, the soon-to-be pals represent two extremes, and the guy who’s gonna be the married — the truly successful male! — will have to mediate between them extremes in order to achieve the aim.

03182009_i_love_you_man2.jpgIn the meantime, there are a crapload of jokes about fellatio, dog shit and Rush, and most of it’s pretty funny stuff, but it’s Rudd’s performance that keeps everything both afloat and fresh. In his recent work with the Judd Apatow posse, Rudd’s played outlandish goofballs whose antics belie the actor’s own friendly good looks. Here, he plays an introvert who suddenly decides he wants to be schticky — playing air bass to signify pleasure, making up goofy guy nicknames — and is a total schmuck at it. “Totes McGoats” is his spontaneous stab at guy-speak for “totally.” Whenever he tries to “do” a “fun” voice, he sounds like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. To watch this completely deft comic actor do such a virtuoso simulation of ineptitude is one of the film’s greatest pleasures, as is the fact that its inevitable happy end comes after a third act that doesn’t lag (or, as this picture would say, “ladge”) nearly as much as other male-centric comedies of recent vintage have.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.