Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tell Your Best Bro How Much You Love Him

As his wedding day approaches, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) realizes he has no one to act as his best man. Through a series of ''man-dates,'' he finds Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), and the pair become instant friends. But as Peter's ''bro-mance'' with Sydney grows stronger, it threatens his relationship with his fiancee (Rashida Jones), forcing Peter to make a choice inI Love You, Man.

After Peter Klaven's (Rudd) proposed to Zooey (Jones), the girl of his dreams, the friends and family circle around them begin to notice that Peter doesn't really have any male friends. Even gay younger brother Robby (Andy Samberg) attracts more straight men, including dad (J.K. Simmons), than Pete does. Determined to fit into the macho model, Peter tries to find someone to hang with that might be best man material and finds a pal beyond his wildest dreams at one of his own open houses. Before too long, Peter will be able to confess to Sydney Fife (Segel) I Love You, Man. Cowriter (with Larry Levin)/ director John Hamburg ("Along Came Polly") flips the typical romantic comedy on its head for this cute bromance that showcases Rudd's comedic talents. Acting as the 'girl' character, Rudd does a balancing act between effeminate and nerdy that perfectly captures Peter's comfort with women and awkwardness around manly men (that his hair is cut every so slightly too short around his ears helps the illusion). As his new best bud, Jason Segel is a lot more laid back than in his own "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," and, thankfully, keeps his pants on. I Love You, Man is the buddy movie equivalent of a chick flick. Pete's the only one horrified at the breakfast table when his dad throws around some blunt sex talk and he is thoroughly grossed out when his high profile realtor cube neighbor Tevin (Rob Huebel) emails over a raunchy sex video, yet he's in his element preparing hot chocolate with pirouette biscuit straws when Zooey hosts girls' night. That's when he overhears cautions from Zooey's friends Denise (Jaime Pressly) and Hailey (Sarah Burns) that the traits that seem endearing now will seem clingy once married. Peter enlists help from his gym instructor brother and even mom (Jane Curtin) to go out on some man dates, but they prove problematic to say the least. An attempt to buddy up to Denise's husband (Jon Favreau) finds him alienated after cluelessly winning a high stakes poker pot, then projectile vomiting on his host after winning a beer chugging contest. After exchanging business cards with Sydney (note the female preference for name spelling here), Peter calls and leaves one of cinema's funnier voicemails suggesting a get together. Sydney bites, suggesting a beach bar, followed by the 'world's best fish tacos.' Zooey is perplexedly pleased when Pete shows up late and drunk. Pete soon finds himself a regular in Sydney's 'man cave,' complete with jerkoff station and band gear for jamming, but after some male heart-to-hearts cause pre-marital distress, the friendship's broken to save the nuptials. Segel makes a great straight man for Rudd, whose banter ('Totally, totes me goats') and nicknaming attempts (he's dubbed Pistol Pete) are nonsensical as whose every impression, be it Jamaican accent or tough guy movie star, comes out in Leprechaunese. Segel is like that perfect guy whom we're made to doubt (a slightly embarrassing toast at an engagement party, a request for a hefty loan) by a script that doesn't abuse romantic comedy convention while hitting all its touchstones. Segel's big-boned sprawl and ill-at-ease acquiescence to female rite (watch his procession down a wedding aisle) are the physical comedy opposites of what Rudd does. Rudd and Segel get fine support from the ever reliable Simmons, as well as Huebel as a glad-handing snake, Thomas Lennon as a man date expecting a real one and Lou Ferrigno as himself and one of Pete's clients. Favreau makes disdain amusing and Samberg flips the gay stereotype in a film about flipping the conventional. Female support is more of the window dressing variety - Jones repeats her 'Office' character of Karen while Pressly just classes up Earl's Joy. Curtain is forgettable, but Burns makes her needy singleton appropriately squirm inducing. I Love You, Man starts with a high concept that Rudd and Segel take to the finish line. This is a buddy movie that even women can enjoy, a surprisingly sweet take on male friendship that still has its testosterone intact. Hilarious beginning to end. I give this one a 4 on my "Go See" scale. Take your best bro and go on a man-date to see this movie. You may just come out saying, "I love you, man.

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