I Love You, Man (2009)
My Rating: 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Medium fun, a friendship tale, predictable!”
After years of swiping scenes from the leading men in such movies as KNOCKED UP and THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, Paul Rudd finally headlines a star vehicle of his own. Unlike those Judd Apatow productions, it’s John Hamburg (ALONG CAME POLLY) who directs I LOVE YOU, MAN, albeit with many of the touchstones of Apatow’s highly successful freaks-and-geeks-with-heart aesthetic. In other words, this is not an Apatow film, but, with the male capacity for–and simultaneous inability to express–fraternal love as its core comic conceit (and emotional centerpiece), it may as well be. Rudd plays Peter Klaven, a real estate agent with a blossoming career and an imminent marriage to Zooey (THE OFFICE’s Rashida Jones)–basically, he’s lucky in all things except male bonding.
The narrative arc centers on his quest for platonic man-love–as opposed to, say, finding the girl of his dreams–and follows the boilerplate dictates of a standard rom-com with a subversive wink. In this case, boy meets boy, boys bond over their common love of Rush and Andre the Giant, boys break up and make up, etc. Rudd and co-star Jason Segel (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL), a fellow Apatow alum who plays Sydney Fife, the Type B object of Klaven’s affection, imbue their roles with winning charisma and elevate the plot with real and nuanced chemistry.
With a whip-smart pace, the film continually tills fresh comic ground as Hamburg finds punctuation points in every scene and never lets a gag overstay its welcome. While the supporting cast features many memorable turns by the likes of Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly, and Andy Samberg, I LOVE YOU, MAN ultimately belongs to Rudd, who approaches insecurity and social awkwardness with the same dead-eye marksmanship that Peter Sellers did for slapstick.