Male Bonding

'I Love You, Man' pays homage to the strong yet often unspoken, and completely not-gay, connection between guys

It’s springtime again — season of love, hope, budding bromance. That’s no typo, gang — bromance is the new romance. It’s all about the dude love, the hetero bonding of two guys, the (platonic) man-on-man action. A ”bro” is more than just a poker buddy, he’s the wing-man who’s always ready to ”suit up” and will be there for you when the chips are down. I Love You, Man pays homage to this strong yet often unspoken, and completely not-gay, connection between guys.

Poor Peter (Paul Rudd) has been flying solo for his entire life. He’s that sensitive, sweet guy who is more likely to curl up on the couch with his girlfriend and watch The Devil Wears Prada (his choice) than go out carousing with the guys (mainly because he wasn’t invited). So now that he’s met his dream woman (The Office‘s Rashida Jones), who is going to stand up for him at his wedding?

'I Love You Man'
‘I Love You Man’

Peter calls in the troops, from his mother (Jane Curtin) to his gay brother (Andy Samberg), and ends up on a series of miserable — but hysterical — blind man-dates. Just as all hope is lost, he meets someone when he least expects it. Sydney (Peter Segel) is your typical slacker, but when he and Peter bond over free food and farting, it’s a match made in heaven. Through the awkward first date and the first stroll along the beach, the bromance grows until it climaxes in a musical montage. It’s enough to make you swoon.

It’s a good thing that Segel and Rudd are so adorable, because there’s nothing in the flimsy premise or script to bowl you over. I Love You, Man only just makes it across the finish line. It’s gasping for air when it gets there.

Writers Larry Levin and John Hamburg (who also directs) barely have a cohesive story — a couple of funny lines and some ridiculous situations are cobbled together to form a beginning, middle, end. I Love You, Man is so completely formulaic that you’ll sense you’ve seen it all before. This time, though, someone went and changed half of the pronouns, substituting the usual final kiss with a manly hug. However, it’s that slight change – and the actors – that make the film worthwhile.

The MVPs of the film are undeniably Rudd and Segel, and both of their performances are slam dunks. Their chemistry was evident in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and it keeps growing here. Rudd has earned his place as a leading man, building on the success of Role Models, which proved he can be a headliner. He imbues Peter with a vulnerable yet masculine quality that plays well against Sydney’s more outrageous personality. Segel, who thank goodness keeps his clothes on for the entirety of the movie, is a wonderful Peter Pan. Even though he doesn’t want to grow up, he’s willing to help Peter follow his heart. And isn’t that what best friends are for?

The supporting cast is a who’s who of comedic actors, including Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly, SNL‘s Samberg and Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon. Each are gems that give the film a little extra sparkle whenever they’re on-screen, but none are around long enough to do more than deliver a couple punch lines and exit. A cameo by Lou Ferrigno is wonderfully handled as well, though he’s possibly the second-worst actor in the movie.

I LOVE YOU, MAN
starstarstarstar
Starring Paul Rudd, Jason Segel
Rated R
105 Minutes
Opens Friday
At Area Theaters

Winning top honor in that category is Jones as Peter’s bride-to-be, Zooey. Sure, the part is one-dimensional, but her whole performance is completely wooden and forced. The talent and dry humor she demonstrated on The Office appears to have been left on that set.

I Love You, Man is silly, it’s cute, it’s totally predictable. But sometimes you need a happy ending where the boy gets the bro and the girl, and they all live happily ever after.

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