I take issue with the word "Bromance." But I guess it’s better than Brotonic Brolationship.
I Love You, Man is a "bromantic comedy." That’s it. And I am fine with that. That should set up your expectations. Boy meets boy. Boy gets boy. Boy loses… Well, you get the picture.
Paul Rudd is Peter Klaven, a beta real estate man who more easily relates to his fiancee, Zooey (Rashida Jones – more on her here), than with the beer-chugging poker set. His best friend (he thinks) is his office mate Tevin (Rob Huebel of Human Giant fame); but in truth, Peter doesn’t have a guy friend in anyone. Even his father (J.K. Simmons) identifies more to Peter’s gay younger brother Robbie (Andy Samberg). Peter comes to realize he’s in desperate need of a guy friend. More importantly, he needs a best man at his wedding.
Enter the man-date montage. The sequence tees up some major setups (and knocks them out of the park on many occasions). Peter plays serial dater to multiple male suitors, each attempting to out-embarrass the last. It ends up as a conversation piece in answer to, "What was your most awkward date moment?" It’s only after a blind date and a couple of "nights out with the guys" that Peter meets Sydney (Jason Segel) at Lou Ferrigno’s open house – yes, THAT Lou Ferrigno.
And now the bromance. The relationship plays up Sydney’s ease in hanging out with dudes, while Peter’s inexperience leads to awkwardly overt attempts at being a man’s man. Peter tries too hard, but patient and honest Sydney eases him out of his shell.
The story takes a lot of comedic twists and turns from here. You know where it’s going, but you don’t care that you do. There are a lot of great gags, and the ensemble of funny bit players surrounding Rudd and Segel are excellent – Jon Favreau, Thomas Lennon, and Jay Chandrasekhar to name a few.
Paul Rudd plays an excellent comedy straight man; the joke’s usually on him. In Peter, Rudd toes the line between masculine and feminine – an oft-referenced theme in the film (primarily from new best friend Sydney). Jason Segel is great as the "man who never grew up." Rashida’s part, on the other hand, is underplayed. And her character only partly developed, if only for her lack of screen time.
John Hamburg, who previously directed the hit-and-miss Along Came Polly, expertly weaves the bromance, and never over-emphasizes its truthful and tender moments. They come as they should, subtle and not fed to the audience. He and Larry Nevin* crafted a screenplay that not only strikes undertones of parody aimed at regular ol’ guy ‘n girl romantic comedies, but more strikingly, play it to a near pitch-perfect melody of awkwardness in finding friends so late in life.
In all, a great flick to bring the girlfriend to (or the bro), but you may have to explain a few of the more manly details to the lady in your life – details, you would surmise from the movie, that are best left unspoken, but nevertheless, are pretty funny.
*It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Larry Nevin wrote the screenplay, as he also wrote the Seinfeld episode "The Boyfriend," featuring a bromance between Jerry and Keith Hernandez ("I despise him!").
Ross Conkey is a writer living in Chicago. He likes fluffernutter sandwiches. He wants to grow up to be Keith David.