Published Mar 19, 2009Though the faces all look familiar and the premise reeks of him, I Love You, Man actually has nothing to do with Judd Apatow. But the irresistible urge to mention him in a review for a movie he has nothing to do with demonstrates the influence he currently has on comedy. And frankly, it's surprising to learn that I Love You, Man is sans Judd's touch, considering how funny and how accurately John Hamburg (who directed episodes of Apatow's Undeclared) depicts the challenges in finding male platonic companionship.
Paul Rudd (who is on quite the streak the past few years, with Role Models, Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin) plays Peter Klaven, a real estate agent who gets engaged to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones). When asked about whom his best man will be, Peter realizes that he actually has no male friends. After a series of unsuccessful "man dates," Peter gives up his search for his pal and focuses on selling Lou Ferrigno's house (yes, you read that correctly).
It's there he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), an investor who just so happens to feel the same way about Peter. Together the pair become BFFs, and Sydney teaches a naïve Peter how to become a dude: divulging bedroom secrets, jamming out to Rush (who make a cameo in concert) and teaching him how to be a little less girlish. Of course, eventually their "bromance" (which was originally the working title for the film) takes a toll on Peter's romance and soon Peter realizes that being a "dude" might just ruin his impending marriage.
There were a hundred ways to fail at making this movie work, but the one reason why I Love You, Man succeeds is Rudd. Though he doesn't provide as many belly laughs as he did as a curmudgeon in Role Models, as Peter he delivers his performance with awkward genius. Portraying a man too sensitive and in touch with his feminine side to be comfortable in the company of other men, he pukes when he's had too much to drink, fumbles a phone call to Sydney the day after and most effectively, he simply cannot come up with a masculine nickname to save his life.
It's these little behavioural tics that make the film a genuinely uncomfortable yet completely honest experience for the viewer, both male and female. And Segel complements Rudd's performance with his own impressive turn as the mentor, responsible for arguably the most memorable scene when he toasts the engagement party.
I Love You, Man isn't without its raunchy moments but again, like any good Apatow-related flick, it knows when to use sensitivity to its advantage, and in doing so provides us with something men have been waiting years for: a credible enactment of the pains some of us must go through in order to find that perfect dude. (Dreamworks/Paramount)