I Love You, Man (2009) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for pervasive language, crude humor and sexual references
Running time: 105 min.
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressley, Sarah Burns, Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons, Joe Lo Truglio, Thomas Lennon, Lou Ferrigno
Director: John Hamburg
Screenplay: John Hamburg, Larry Levin
The "Bromance" is the term quickly becoming mainstream due to its increasing popularity in recent years, especially given the success of the Judd Apatow produced films. The terms is loosely defined as a pseudo-romantic comedy involving platonic male friends, though in many cases, it's ensconced within the traditional male-female romance. I Love You, Man takes the opposite approach by actually making the bromance the main coupling, while the male-female relationship issues are pushed aside in seeing the "courtship" of two men desperately in search of a new best bud. Guys will talk about what guys generally talk about when women aren't around -- sex, sports, rock & roll. They don't usually talk about their love for one another -- except perhaps when drunk...and in the ever more popular bromance.
Paul Rudd (Role Models, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) stars as the soon-to-be-married Peter Klaven, a struggling real estate agent who has realized that has realized that every friend he's ever had has been a girlfriend and their friends, never having a best male bud of his own, and risks not being able to choose a best man. He tries seemingly everything to "court" a best friend, from he internet to hanging out at gyms, but things never quite seem to gel. That is until he meets Sydney Fife (Segel, Knocked Up), a single guy who crashes the open house of a famous client in order to try to score with rich cougars. The two begin to bond, but problems begin to occur when Peter begins spending more time with his new friend than his fiancÚ, Zooey (Jones, Little Black Book).
I Love You Man benefits from solid casting, particularly in the male leads, who are likeable despite their characters having some major character flaws that cause them to be either annoying or overbearing to those around them. Funny bits are also given to the supporting male players, J.K. Simmons (Burn After Reading) and Andy Samberg (Hot Rod) as Peter's understanding father and mentor (at least in how to catch a man) gay brother, respectively. As is typical for bromance flicks, the female characters aren't written to be much more than an attractive hot babe with girl-next-door qualities that provide the impetus for the male characters to play for, or off of, depending on the circumstances.
There isn't a great deal of plot to I Love You Man, as most of the film deals with the camaraderie shared between the two male leads as they get to know one another, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. A film like this is merely a comedic interpretation of male bonding when one person is much more experienced than the other at it, and though there are traditional romantic comedy elements, the situations are refreshingly handled. Much of the humor, and many of the interactions, feel as though they have been ad-libbed, especially in Peter's consistent use of made up words and pet names ("Dude Von Dudenstein"), which fits in with the character's attempt to seem cool without exactly knowing how to do it.
If you like the comedy style of Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, I Love You Man should be right up your alley. To those who might have been turned off to Judd Apatow's gross-out moments, this offers a little less of the crudeness factor, though there is one particularly gross vomit scene, some dog poop gags (not shown graphically) and references to such things as a masturbation station that is (thankfully) not worked in to a disgusting moment in the film just to have one. The two leads carry the film, and with inventive situations thrown in by writer-director John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, Safe Men), the laughs are consistent, and the overall experience satisfying. A good date movie -- even if it is a man date.
©2009 Vince Leo