I Love You, Man
Two years ago, Justin Shubow wrote a fascinating and insightful article for National Review on the emerging trend of "bromantic" comedies, i.e., male buddy movies that follow the narrative template of a romantic comedy, even to the point of including scenes in which the two men declare their platonic love for one another, perhaps by saying something like "I love you, man." Looking at Wedding Crashers, Superbad and other films in this mini-genre, Shubow said the one thing they all lacked was the "meet cute," the scene in which the two buddies meet for the very first time. But now, at last, we have a film that follows the template from start to finish—and it is called, fittingly, I Love You, Man.
The film stars Paul Rudd as Peter Klaven, a man who, when we first meet him, has plenty of female friends, most of them casual, but no real male friends. This doesn't bother him at first—indeed, it seems he has never really even thought about it—but after he gets engaged to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones), he realizes that, whereas she has several friends to choose from for her half of the wedding party, he has pretty much none. And so, with some encouragement from his gay brother Robbie (Andy Samberg), Peter goes on a series of "man-dates," hoping to meet someone who can be best man at his wedding.
Things don't work out so well at first, and Peter is tempted to forget the whole thing, but then, one day, he meets a guy who could very well turn out to be the "right man." Peter, a real estate agent whose latest client is Lou "The Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno, holds an open house for one of Ferrigno's homes, and there he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a friendly, casual, easygoing guy whose ability to read the body language of total strangers could rival that of Sherlock Holmes. Peter and Sydney exchange business cards, and the next thing Peter knows, he's working up the courage to phone Sydney and leave him a voice-mail—a voice-mail that will, of course, turn out to be hilariously awkward.
Fortunately for Peter, Sydney returns the call and the two of them begin to hang out—a fact that pleases Zooey and amuses her friends, one of whom, Denise (Jaime Pressly), teases Peter by saying that he has a "boyfriend." (This prompts a quick, snappy and funny exchange between Denise and another friend of Zooey's, played by Sarah Burns, which I won't spoil here.) Tensions begin to rise, though, as the time Peter spends with his new buddy eats into the time he would have spent with the woman he's about to marry, and as Sydney begins to take an embarrassingly proactive role in Peter's life (including, among other things, publicly giving Zooey advice on how to improve her sex life with Peter).
Because the film celebrates male friendship, because it co-stars Rudd and Segel (who previously worked together on Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and because it features a fair bit of coarse humor (lots of four-letter words, a dog pooping on the sidewalk, a man drinking beer so fast he vomits in someone's face), many people will inevitably associate it with the recent spate of Judd Apatow movies. But Apatow had nothing to do with this one, and in some ways it's almost an improvement on his work.