Love is such a strong word – I Love You Too review

I Love You Too – Starring Brendan Cowell, Peter Dinklage and Yvonne Strahovski. Directed by Daina Reid. Rated M. Originally published May 7, 2010. By Simon Miraudo.

I’ve never had much trouble expressing my feelings – particularly the romantic ones. Maybe that’s why I had trouble connecting with the hero of I Love You Too, an Australian romcom in which four little words prove to be four words too many. Brendan Cowell stars as Jim, a stand-up bloke who just can’t bring himself to verbally return the affection of long-time girlfriend Alice (Yvonne Strahovski). He really wants to; that much is certain. But a nasty case of oral constipation keeps getting in the way. Again, it’s a condition I’m unfamiliar with. Pre-school/primary school/high school declarations of love were frequent, if not always reciprocated. I mention my (not un-pathetic) teenage exploits for a reason. Even if my behaviour was immature and plenty naive, I meant well, and each experience was still damn romantic. I Love You Too can be described the same way. It’s chock full of clichés and lame jokes, but the film is sweet, surprisingly touching and eager to put a smile on your face. Every time that I feel like chastising the film for its formulaic indiscretions, I only see the wide-eyed grin of an adolescent who just wants to be loved. And how could I stay mad at that face!

I Love You Too was written by comedian Peter Helliar and directed by comedienne Daina Reid. They’re both first timers – and it shows – but they give it a valiant effort. They’re kept afloat by a solid cast including a suitably limp Cowell and the charming Strahovski (who share far too few scenes together). Of course, the undeniable star of the film is Peter Dinklage. He plays Charlie, a short-statured American who helps piece together Jim’s heart after being dumped by Alice. Viewers may recognise him from The Station Agent or Death at a Funeral. His sardonic, dry-wit is a natural fit here. All the film’s funniest and most poignant moments directly involve Dinklage. The high calibre of these three performances don’t exactly make it easy to appreciate acting newcomers Helliar and Megan Gale, who play Jim’s sex-obsessed best friend and an unattainable Italian supermodel respectively (obviously). Helliar can’t quite pull off the transition from friendly comedian-next-door to slimy nightclub-trawler. He is essentially playing the same character as Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly (a likeness enhanced by the two actors’ uncanny physical similarities). Surprisingly, he is more effective in the more emotional moments. As for Gale, well, she looks very pretty.

The film’s naiveté is what ultimately separates it from the great modern break-up movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. That film is completely brazen in its depiction of relationship limbo. It is filled with brutal truths and moments of unbearable emotional nudity – whilst also somehow being hilarious. I Love You Too can’t quite bring itself to that level of frankness. Sex is a frequent topic of discussion, but it’s never really discussed. The same goes for subjects such as marriage, parenthood, friendship, commitment, and even the film’s elusive four-letter word – love. The terms are thrown around ad nauseum, but it seems that the film attributes the same weight to them as I did as an adoration-professing teen. I Love You Too is a bit too juvenile to tackle these topics. Helliar’s script is filled with everything you would expect from a typical romantic comedy – the snarky BFFs, the lunch-cutter eager to steal away the vulnerable girlfriend, the climactic race to the airport. It’s a hodgepodge of tropes, but the charm, innocence and genuine sentiment of Helliar’s words are irrefutable. Although he doesn’t quite escape the constraints placed upon him by the genre, I can imagine Helliar one day delivering a genuinely great screenplay – one that perhaps is just a bit tighter, funnier and braver. Thankfully, he already has the romance down pat.

3/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

I Love You Too arrives on DVD and Blu-ray October 7, 2010.

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