I LOVE YOU, MAN: 3 STARS
I Love You, Man is a new bromance comedy starring Paul Rudd and Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Jason Segal. Rudd plays Peter, an awkward guy who proposes to his fiancé (Rashida Jones) and then must find someone, any one, to be his best man.
After a few misfires, including a man-date with a crazy soccer fan and an architect who wanted to be more than just BFFs Peter finds a new best friend ever in the form of Sydney Fife (Jason Segal), a big mouthed manchild with a Rush fixation who becomes Peter’s man mentor. “I have an ocean of testosterone flowing through my veins,” he says, “and sometimes I have to let it out.” All goes well until Sydney’s overbearing ways slowly pushes a wedge between Peter and his wife to be.
I Love You, Man takes its lead from the Judd Apatow school of comedy. Apatow, the comedy maven behind The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, had nothing to do with this movie but his fingerprints are all over it. Two of Apatow’s regulars—Segal and Rudd—headline the cast, but the Apatowian resemblance doesn’t stop there. Like The 40 Year Old Virgin and others, I Love You, Man is first and foremost about relationships. That means that while the movie is laced with bathroom humor and bad boy antics it also has a soft mushy side. It’s a winning combination that has turned Apatow’s vulgar little comedies into perfect date movies. So it is with I Love You, Man, the only movie featuring multiple montages from Canadian power trio Rush—Sydney calls them “the holy triumvirate”—and flatulence jokes that has that kind of crossover appeal.
As Peter Paul Rudd leaves behind the cocky fast-talking persona he has honed in other films, choosing to show more vulnerability than usual. It’s something different from him, but it isn’t completely successful. Instead of opening the character up and really showing his insecurities he comes across more as needy, clingy and slightly annoying.
Luckily Jason Segal is there to provide the real laughs. Sydney is a loud mouth who never grew up, and in Segal’s hands a great, unpredictable comic character. It’s a natural performance that could have grated but is saved by Segal’s charm.
The supporting cast also provides some nice moments. Jon Favreau takes a break from working on Iron Man 2 to step in front of the camera as Jaime Pressly’s grumpy and slightly perverted husband and Thomas Lennon gives the film one of its best sequences as a jilted mandate who comes back to confront Peter.
The women fare slightly less well. As Peter’s fiancée Zooey, Rashida Jones isn’t required to do anything but be adorable, which she does nicely, but it is a standard girlfriend / fiancée role. My Name is Earl’s Jaime Pressly has a bit more fire, but isn’t as funny here as she is every week on her sitcom.
I Love You, Man is an Apatow-wannabe, a film that rides the line between heartwarming and vulgar, but without the laugh-per-minute ratio that Judd Apatow pulls off in his films.