Although several decisions make one wonder, the overriding sense when watching I Love You Too is of comfortable enjoyment. Peter Helliar has created a film that tells a familiar (and often well-and-truly overdone) tale of growth and love, and wrapped it in the even more familiar guise of romantic comedy.
Best friends Jim (Brendan Cowell) and Blake (Peter Helliar) live the lives of lads about town: drinking, partying, casual sex (at least for Jim, Blake is never so lucky). Jim drives trains for a living – at a miniature railway his father built – and lives in the granny flat out the back of his sister’s house. When Jim meets Alice, however, he finds a kindred spirit and the spark of something great, but someone who may not be able to wait forever for him to grow up and make an emotional commitment.
This website has previously discussed the burgeoning genre of films dealing with the emotional failures of men who still act like boys and won’t grow up, so I won’t waste my time harping on about how ridiculously trite this theme is. Needless to say, however, this is perhaps the least impressive aspect of writer Peter Helliar’s first feature film script. Several scenes are just cringeworthy, with their reliance on this cornball staple of modern filmmaking. Jim’s emotional failures are stridently forced on the audience by repetition, and the use of his job and living arrangements as concrete evidence of these failures is a little heavy-handed: the image of him driving the miniature train with screaming kids enjoying the ride behind him could not be any more knowingly pointed than if he had also been dressed as a baby and been sucking a dummy.
Despite this heinous crime in setting and character, Helliar and Cowell almost pull it off. Cowell has always seemed a fairly reserved actor, and one whose characters are consequently more difficult to engage with than one might otherwise hope for in a romantic comedy lead. That said, there is an everyman quality about him that screams at his audience to back him, and it is this aspect that wins out in I Love You Too. Helliar is a little less successful in his supporting turn, although both are eclipsed by supporting performances by Yvonne Strahovski and Peter Dinklage.
Upon viewing the trailer, one could be forgiven for assuming Dinklage’s presence is more about easy laughs, when in fact it is his character Charlie that provides much of the emotional heart of the film. Charlie’s relationship with Jim is comfortable and just seems to make sense, and their effect on each other’s lives is all the more believable for it. Strahovski nails her role, discharging an authentic depiction of the woman who loves a man-child despite herself.
107 minutes is marginally too long for a film of this nature, and director Daina Reid probably could have afforded to trim a couple of sections that don’t really work: the subplot involving Jim’s sister and her fiance is given far too much time, while the final countdown sequence in the taxi also could have been more judiciously edited. Much good will is built throughout the film, however it risks being diminished by scenes that don’t do enough to move the story forward.
Although this isn’t the film that will right the goodship RomCom, which is listing badly and appears close to sinking, I Love You Too certainly doesn’t add any more ballast. Enjoyable and at times moving, albeit trite and predictable, this would make for a great night on the couch.Rating: