Communion and a Search for Friends
By Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez
In the 2009 comedy, I Love You, Man, a man named Peter Klaven goes on a search to find a best man for his wedding. The film talks about how Peter was always a girlfriend guy and never really had any good guy friends. When he hears his fiancée talking to her girlfriend about how she does not know who Peter will have as his best man, Peter sets out on a journey to find a male best friend. He goes on many different outings with men in the process of finding his best friend, but one thing is common through all of his match-ups: food.
On Peter’s first few outings, he and his potential friends eat foods that would not be defined as comfort foods. Food was used in these instances to show that the outing was not going well. On his unsuccessful “man dates” Peter ate foods that were cold, formal, and strong. Some of the things he ate included beer, wine and bread, and a melon filled with cottage cheese. All of these foods are not something that make you comfortable and the director used them as a way of showing that none of those dates would work out. In one scene in particular, it is obvious from the food that Peter is in a weird situation. His mom had set him up with a man who was new to town and they got wine and bread at a restaurant (18:57:00). This food immediately conveys a message that this date was much more romantic than it is platonic. Wine and bread are foods that do not make you feel very comfortable, in fact they would make one feel very formal and even romantic. In fact, after the date was over, the man Peter ate with kissed him. Yet, when Peter finally meets Sydney, the person that would become his best man, they bond over a dish that was much more casual and comforting, fish tacos. From the moment that the camera pans over Peter and Sydney eating the fish tacos, the audience can tell that this date is going to work out for Peter. The camera zooms in on them putting cilantro and salsa on their tacos and eating with their hands in a very casual way (33:33:00). The friends were so comfortable with each other that at one point Sydney even asks about Peter’s fiancée: “How is the sex?” (31:55:00).
Throughout the film, we see that sharing a meal together can bring people together. Every time that Sydney and Peter hang out they eat a meal together and this helps them develop an even closer bond. Yet, it is important to note that the meals that they share are usually not sit-down, formal dinners. Often, it is just a casual meal like fish tacos or crepes. What people eat when they try to relate to each other is extremely important because it can almost define the relationship. When the director wanted to show that Peter’s date would not work out, he would have the potential friends eat an obscure food or a harsh beverage. Yet, when Peter meets Sydney, they only ever eat comfort foods that you can eat with your hands. These kinds of foods define their relationship and show that they are becoming increasingly comfortable with each other.
I Love You, Man. Dir. John Hamburg. Perf. Paul Rudd, Jason Segel. Dreamworks, 2009.