I Love You, Man (2009)
105 min., rated R.
Grade: B +
“Bromance” is the freshly minted term for "I Love You, Man," a crude but enjoyable and surprisingly sweet buddy comedy, which has just the right ingredients to make any Judd Apatow concoction a success—minus his name not appearing anywhere on the credits.
Paul Rudd has never been harder to dislike or better at playing the socially awkward dweeb than here as Peter Klaven, a strait-laced, too-sincere Los Angeles real estate agent. About to get married to his lovely live-in fiancée Zooey (a pleasantly genuine Rashida Jones), Peter realizes he has no male friends or a best friend for that matter when it's time to choose a best man. He'd rather stay in, watching "Chocolat" with Zooey or making root beer floats for her and her girlfriends on ladies' night, when everyone else around him knows he should be chillaxing with the dudes playing some Texas Hold 'Em over a few brewskies. After a few failed “man dates,” enter investor Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), who's both a tell-it-like-it-is-and-not-leave-anything-out kind of guy and Venice Beach slacker, showing up at Peter's open house in Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno's mansion. Within days, these guys are hanging out, eating the “the world's best fish tacos” at a beach bar, jamming out to Rush and playing electric guitar, and sharing masturbation stories ... man, love is in the air! But when Zooey feels like she's losing Peter and that he's sharing too many intimate details with Sydney about their relationship, the male BFFs' friendship and the lovebirds' engagement goes into jeopardy.
Director-writer John Hamburg doesn't try as hard like he did with "Along Came Polly," but lets the crass, raunchy stuff and “bromance” flow from the smart, hilariously played work of its cast. Larry Levin and Hamburg's script naturally has a predictable story complication, but a vomit sight gag and jokes about oral sex and flatulence that come up in dialogue have funny, honest setups and payoffs.
Rudd and Segel ad-lib a lot of their lines and share effortless chemistry, looking like best buds in real life. When an actor such as Rudd makes us cringe uncomfortably and feel embarrassed for him, as when he tries being manly and sounds like a Leprechaunesque jackass, he's that good at playing a painfully awkward Everyman we can root for. Segel's Sydney, as goofy and doughy as schlubs go, is the straight man to Rudd's Peter, giving his chum ridiculous nicknames like “Pistol Pete.” The leads are supported by a solid cast: J.K. Simmons and Jane Curtain are underutilized but have moments as Peter's parents; Andy Samberg is unusually restrained—a polar opposite of his SNL rap skit of “Jizz in My Pants”—as Peter's gay athletic trainer-brother; Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau haven't been this funny in a while as Zooey's best friend and her bickering, disdainful husband; and Thomas Lennon is amusingly creepy as a man date, who kisses Peter at the end of their dinner.
While not as near-perfect as most of Apatow's films, this isn't Apatow, but it walks and talks like one, and oh, here it goes ... you'll love "I Love You, Man," totes magotes.