It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come up with the plot for a romantic comedy. After all, most follow the same basic recipe: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, the end. I Love You, Man was born when someone tossed a gimmick into the formula. The film doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does turn the ingredients upside down, and it's quite refreshing.
Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a mild-mannered Los Angeles real estate agent, and his girl is Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones). They have been dating for less than a year, but are madly in love. As the movie opens, Peter proposes, and Zooey accepts. Immediately, she calls her friends to celebrate. This makes Peter realize that he has no buddies to call; he doesn't even have anyone to be his best man. Article continues below
Peter has always been one of those "girlfriend guys" who focuses on relationships, not on making friends. This flaw has never bothered Peter before, but when he overhears his fiancÚ and her friends talking about the potential downsides to his lack of buddies, he decides it's time to make a friend or two. He turns to his gay brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg), for advice on platonic relationships with other dudes.
After a series of really bad "man-dates," Peter stumbles upon Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) a carefree bachelor who stops by Peter's open house to eat the free food. They share a conversation and exchange business cards. A few phone calls later, Peter and Sydney find themselves partying in Venice Beach and rocking out to Rush. Peter has found a new best friend. But is Sydney's bachelor lifestyle rubbing off on him, and will it interfere with Peter's engagement?
John Hamburg (co-writer of Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers) helms the brotherly love opus, and the film benefits from his wry comic instincts. Many of the jokes he and co-writer Larry Levin (a Seinfeld alum) devise are laugh-out-loud funny, but Hamburg draws most of the laughs from the embarrassing moments and awkward pauses that result. Rudd and Segel don't go for the "buddy comedy" chemistry. Instead, their characters are polar opposites, and their struggle to fit in with each other unveils a goldmine of comic possibilities.
Some of the funniest moments stem from the supporting actors: Jamie Pressly, Jon Favreau, and Sarah Burns. Armed with frenetic energy and deliciously naughty innuendos, Pressly and Favreau steal their scenes as Zooey's married friends, Burns playing the single-for-a-reason 30-something bridesmaid. While they bring much to the film, these characters also expose one of the film's miscalculations: I Love You, Man has a lot of ideas for subplots, but never takes the time to develop them.
While not as memorable as many of his previous credits, Hamburg has constructed a delightfully crude and side-splittingly funny cinematic experience with I Love You, Man. But guys are probably wondering: Is this a date movie, or a movie to see with your buds? That depends on if you're man enough to hug your buddies afterward, because I Love You, Man will give you a new appreciation for your pals.