Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime
Pressly, Jon Favreau, Andy Samberg. Rated R.
Judd Apatow deserves plenty of credit for his contributions
to comedy – among them, TV’s late, lamented Freaks and Geeks, The
40-Year-Old Virgin and the discovery of Seth Rogen – but one of his
masterstrokes has been overlooked until now: the pairing of Paul Rudd and
former Freak Jason Segel.
Though Apatow’s name appears nowhere in the credits of I
Love You, Man, his creative spirit looms
large throughout, as Rudd and Segel liberally indulge their inner adolescents
while cementing a friendship strong enough to withstand life’s little
distractions, including marriage and Sunday-night HBO.
If that makes their latest comedy sound like a page out of
the same playbook that produced Superbad
and last year’s Pineapple Express
– aggressively silly male-bonding fantasies with a heart – you’re not far off.
But Rudd and Segel, whose on-screen chemistry is one of the movie’s sublime
pleasures, take what might have been a slick, formulaic exercise and turn it
into the year’s funniest film to date with their unselfconscious physical humor
and goofy repartee.
Rudd plays Peter Klaven, an unfailingly responsible
real-estate broker with a pretty fiancée (Rashida Jones, of The Office) and hobbies
that include fencing, cuddling with his
girl and watching Lost. His
social calendar is perpetually uncluttered thanks to his lack of male pals (the
kind to be found in any respectable beer commercial), so when it comes time to
recruit a best man, Peter embarks on a mission to find one.
Sydney (Segel) seems the perfect fit. He’s a good-natured
layabout, wildly uninhibited and slovenly to the core, and his appeal to Peter
is immediate. They bond over drinks, long walks along Venice Beach and a shared
passion for Rush – the band, not the Jason Patric movie. But the key to
Sydney’s allure is that he’s comfortable in his own skin. Peter isn’t, but he
wants to be, and he takes after his new friend with a mixture of respect and
All is not right in Sydney’s laid-back universe – there is a
loneliness in him that’s masked by his Zen-like calm – and the two find in each
other exactly they’ve been looking for. Yet their friendship is neither sickly
sweet nor contrived. John Hamburg and Larry Levin’s screenplay is too honest
for that, and Rudd and Segel keep their characters grounded, even as they flail
away like hyperactive teenagers at a Rush concert and spar, verbally and
otherwise, with Incredible Hulk star Lou
Peter and Sydney’s platonic romance (sorry, I’m not using
the bro word) is subtler than you’d imagine, even touching, but it’s also
riotously funny. The two of them are far from conventionally cool – Peter’s
attempts at casual guy talk are clumsy at best, and Sydney’s uncensored outer
monologues are enough to make a strong man cringe – but they are genuinely,
recognizably human, and therein lies the charm that makes I Love You, Man such an unexpected