, 105 min, 2009
Director: John Hamburg
Writers: John Hamburg (screenplay) and Larry Levin (screenplay), Larry Levin (story)
Stars: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones
I Love You, Man is a comedy about the ever-elusive search I believe many grown adult males struggle with (myself included) – finding and maintaining adult friendships with other dudes.
Real estate agent Peter Klaven (the ever-reliable Paul Rudd) is a square – check that, he’s like the human equivalent of a manila folder taped to a beige wall. Not just that, but somewhere along the way, something’s gone wrong. He’s awkward, lame-humored and just plain ill-fitting much of the time. What his fiancee Zooey (Rashida Jones, occasionally of TV’s The Office) saw in him, perhaps we’ll never know (though his ability in regard to a certain sexual function is alluded to).
So when Zooey has a party full of gal pals (including Jaime Pressly of TV’s My Name is Earl, stuck in the marriage from Hell to Jon Favreau) ready to walk her down the aisle, it is up to Peter to find a guy pal of his own to be there for him. His gay brother Robbie (Andy Samberg of SNL) and his father (J.K. Simmons) seem to have their own wavelength, and Peter’s always been a “girlfriend guy” so making friends with guys his own age isn’t really his thing. Peter’s inner circle, including his mother (Jane Curtain) tries setting him up on “man dates” but they don’t go well – one is with a high-voiced exercise and soccer nut (Jo Lo Truglio) and another is with a gay man (Thomas Lennon from TV’s Reno 9-1-1) who mistakes it for a real date and…let’s just say it doesn’t end well.
Then a ray of sunshine enters Peter’s drab existence in the form of Sydney Fife (Jason Segal, writer and star ofForgetting Sarah Marshall), a tall, lanky, shaggy-haired but pretty well-dressed dude who meets Peter at an open-house for the home of Lou Ferrigno (who shows up as himself). Sydney sticks out but is at ease with himself, a big ball of energy and self-confidence, a humorously observant outsider to the world of “polite society;” indeed, it takes a while for Peter to completely warm up to Sydney’s brash, outgoing qualities. Invariably, Sydney will teach Peter how to be a guy, and perhaps be his friend. And maybe they’ll even form a garage band that covers Rush songs.
The film was directed and co-written by John Hamburg (writer of Meet the Parents and its sequel as well as Along Came Polly). There is physical humor, gross-out humor, and there are clever observations about the way people are; notice the hints that Sydney is, in fact, the flip-side of Peter – hyper, nice, funny and, perhaps, a little crazy, but also just as lonely and, in a sense, insecure as Peter is (Sydney has a close group of friends that have, we sense, drifted a bit over the years with age and maturity encroaching).
The film, then, is a bit deeper and funnier than we expect, if not the outrageous Apatow-esque laugh-riot we were thinking we were getting. Still, this is some sweet, sweet hangin’.