Unlikely Buddies, In Search Of Lasting Bromance

Jason Segel, Paul Rudd i i

Opposites Attract: With an impending wedding — and no male buddies to pick a best man from — strait-laced Peter (Paul Rudd) finds an unlikely new friend in the loudmouth Sydney (Jason Segel). Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures
Jason Segel, Paul Rudd

Opposites Attract: With an impending wedding — and no male buddies to pick a best man from — strait-laced Peter (Paul Rudd) finds an unlikely new friend in the loudmouth Sydney (Jason Segel).

Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

I Love You, Man

  • Director: John Hamburg
  • Genre: Buddy Comedy
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Rated: R for dirty words, gamy ideas.

Rashida Jones, Paul Rudd i i

Bottoms Up: Zooey, played by Rashida Jones, clinks glasses with her husband-to-be in celebration of their upcoming wedding. Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures
Rashida Jones, Paul Rudd

Bottoms Up: Zooey, played by Rashida Jones, clinks glasses with her husband-to-be in celebration of their upcoming wedding.

Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

Bride Wars was merely the most recent movie to assume that women are easily deranged by the fear that their wedding won't be drop-dead perfect. The right gown, the right ballroom, the right maid of honor, maybe even the right groom — the quest for these essentials leads to madness, Hollywood imagines. Or at least to bitchiness.

The modestly amusing I Love You, Man tries to flip that premise, supposing that bland L.A. real-estate agent Peter (Paul Rudd) might be driven bonkers by the lack of a best man for his imminent nuptials with Zooey (Rashida Jones). Peter, you see, doesn't have a male best friend.

Yeah, OK, but Peter does have a brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg). No one would blink if Peter chose him as his best man, even if Robbie is gay and snarky.

Problem solved. Movie over.

Yet director and co-writer John Hamburg (Along Came Polly) can't very well acknowledge that Peter's dilemma is phony. Instead, he sends his protagonist on a series of "man-dates" in which Peter hopes to score a new best bud.

This process, depicted in one of the movie's several dreary montage sequences, doesn't work — probably because it doesn't make sense. The most mortifying result is that Peter meets a would-be lover and is just too nice a guy to fend off this new admirer's deep, cigarette-scented tongue kiss.

(Perhaps this is the moment to mention that I Love You, Man is forever struggling to balance between a chic, knowing open-mindedness and stale, pro forma homophobic panic.)

Peter eventually hooks up with Sydney (Jason Segel), a Venice Beach layabout who describes himself as an investor. Though the guys discover that they share a love of Canadian pomp-rock trio Rush, Peter and Sydney have much more not in common, which makes for strained humor as they improbably bond.

Devoted to bedding "cougars," proudly refusing to scoop his dog's poop, Segel's sexist, slovenly Sydney is too much the lout to be likable. Yet Segel is more convincing than Rudd, who's called on to blather pitifully in an effort at "guy talk."

There are some funny bits involving Incredible Hulk veteran Lou Ferrigno — whose house Peter is supposed to be selling — and an attempt to capture Rush's majesty through a laptop's tiny, tinny speakers.

Also on offer: lots of the usual bad-boy movie stuff, including projectile vomiting, jokes about urinal cakes and chatter about masturbation and oral sex.

Peter is repeatedly embarrassed — and that's the point, because as much as anything else, recent buddy comedies are in the business of offering a sort of slapstick catharsis: Their heroes survive abject humiliation so that adolescent viewers can feel relief that their own path to adulthood has been relatively less degrading.

It's a noble undertaking, in its way, but not one that transcends this particular movie's central difficulty. I Love You, Man can never really go anywhere, because it begins at a place that doesn't actually exist.

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