It felt almost inappropriate to take my girlfriend to see I Love You Man, the latest in a long line of bromantic comedies to come out of Hollywood. It was as if I were cheating on my male friends for not sharing this bonding experience with them. Sure, I could go with them to see it a second time. But a little part of me would just feel like the remorseful adulterer. “I swear, I was thinking about you guys the whole time!”
Now if this the most pressing matter on my mind after seeing I Love You, Man, it must be clear that I have few criticisms to report. The latest comedy from director John Hamburg (Along Came Polly) comes with an Apatow-approved cast including Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as two Los Angeleans searching for male companionship – in the strictly platonic sense of course.
The film begins where most romantic comedies end; with Peter Klaven (a nervy and perfectly lovable Rudd) proposing to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones). She says yes, and why wouldn’t she? He’s a successful realtor, a generous lover, and is a fan of the movie Chocolat. The thing is (and in romantic comedies, there is always a thing), he doesn’t really have any male friends. As his brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) points out, Peter’s always been a “girlfriend guy.” Well, now his fiance is rounding up bridesmaids, and Peter needs a best man tout de suite.
In a typical meet-cute scenario, Peter runs into scarf-wearing, bong-smoking dudemeister Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) at the open home of Lou Ferrigno (yes, that Lou Ferrigno). The two of them hit it off straight away: Sydney shows Pete how to loosen up and be a man, while Pete gives Sydney someone to play Rush songs with. Could Sydney wind up being Peter’s best man? Will Zooey feel as if Sydney is stealing Peter away from her? Will an argument late in the second act drive a wedge through all these relationships? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you need to watch some more romantic comedies.
We all know where the film is heading, but that’s hardly the point. Rudd and Segel are such entertaining guides you’re willing to follow them anywhere. Their hilarious to’ing and fro’ing is insanely watchable, and it’s only enhanced by the brilliant supporting cast. Jon Favreau and Jamie Pressly are hilarious as an aggressive (and aggressively sexual) married couple, while J.K. Simmons is pitch-perfect as Peter’s father. Thomas Lennon nearly steals the whole show as a jilted and emotional admirer of Peter.
I Love You, Man is one of the most enjoyable and lovable films of the year, and I can’t imagine many people leaving disappointed (unless you’re afraid of a little blue humour, obviously). If I had to pick out a couple of flaws, perhaps the film adheres too closely to a couple of those tired romantic comedy conventions. And the film doesn’t quite match the dizzying heights of the Jason Segel-scripted romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which played with these conventions in a fresh and exciting way. But that is that film, and this is another. And if I Love You Man teaches us anything, we should have enough room in our hearts for both.