Director: John Hamburg
Screenplay: John Hamburg, Larry Levin
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressly, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jon Favreau
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 104 min
With I Love You, Man, many were vocally worried and perhaps rightfully. A comedy that looks to be straight out of the Book of Apatow… without Apatow’s name in the credits? Apatow assures quality, many thought. This will be a lame attempt to cash-in on some recently successful stars and this style of comedy, others said. You can rest easy, gentlefolk, because this isn’t just a cash-in and it provides just as many laughs and has plenty of heart behind it. Despite being a big fan of both lead actors, I was a bit surprised: I didn’t just like this movie. I liked it a lot.
The story isn’t anything knew. It’s set up with your typical romantic comedy story – except, of course, flipped into a bromantic comedy. We follow Peter Klaven (Rudd) who in the opening scene proposes to his sweet and adorable girlfriend Zooey (Jones – who is great in this, I might add). We soon realize, through an exchange with his father (Simmons) and gay brother (Samberg), that Petey has always been a girlfriend guy – he lacks any close dude friends and as a result doesn’t really have a best man for his upcoming wedding, let alone any other guy friends to fill out the roster. Thus begins the desperate search for a best man, with assistance from his understanding fiancee and his brother. After some hilariously awkward “man-dates,” it isn’t long before Peter meets the laid-back and overly blunt Sydney Fife (Segel), in which Peter’s wife asks after their first man-date, “Is he the one?” as Peter matter-of-factly responds, “I don’t know. It’s too early to tell.”
Herein lies the flip, you see: the token wingman who the lead confides in is Peter’s significant other, while the romantic target is another dude, in which the prize is a same-sex platonic relationship. Change the need for a best man for a wedding into a date for the high school prom and flip Zooey and Sydney and you have a completely by-the-books romantic comedy. A simple and uncomplicated story by all means, but one that shows the awkwardness that can be the result of any bromance, particularly one that has to be formed after the social scenes of high school and college.
The real comedy, as expected, lies in the performances, in which everyone involved brings their funniest to the table. If you’re familiar with the actors and have enjoyed their work up to this point, then you are going to like this. Paul Rudd, as the awkward straight man, and Jason Segel, as the obnoxiously confident slacker friend, are buddy-comedy perfection and comedic gold. They have great chemistry and their ability to improvise much of their performances adds plenty to the humor, in the vain of other recent comedies starring these two and their close-knit pack of friends. Segel certainly has a long career ahead of him in Hollywood, that is for sure. Also, some particularly memorable moments come from Jon Favreau. I won’t spoil them, but it reminded me why I like that guy so much.
My real question is what took so long for these studios to realize how cool Paul Rudd is? From his early days as the so-cool-even-his-sister-wants-to-bang-him brother in Clueless and his blatant over-acting in that awful Halloween sequel that I liked as a kid, I’ve loved that man. Now with I Love You, Man (some would argue that we knew this last year with Role Models) we see full well that he can carry a wide-released comedy on his shoulders. He is just downright funny.
It has some expected potty-humor that may make some role their eyes and, as I said, the story is fairly simple and predictable, but the movie did what a comedy should always do: make me laugh throughout and feel fresh. There was never a laugh-until-it-hurts moment for me, but it is consistently funny throughout and the chemistry between Rudd and Segel provides much of that. It is also, much like Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall (our review), one of those rare comedies that can trick girls into thinking they are watching a chick flick, but the fellow actually enjoys it much more. Obviously, it’s no Citizen Kane, but it is a great little comedy to check out for some mindless laughs with a date or some buddies after a long week of work or school. I have few complaints.