I don't like men.
I'm not talking about liking men in THAT way. No, I'm not gay...but, I'm not making a statement about my sexuality. I'm saying that, as friends, I really don't like men.
Okay. Okay. I've just stepped on a few toes. I do, after all have male friends...some really awesome male friends.
But, I can't deny it. I'm a girl's guy.
It's weird, really. I SUCK in relationships. No, really, I do. I'm HORRIBLE in relationships.
I'm a nice guy.
A good guy.
I do ENJOY relationships. I swear, I really do.
But, I'm an awesome friend.
Women, typically, adore me. They trust me. They enjoy me. We communicate.
I like "chick flicks." No, really.
I have some solid male friendships, unlike Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd). If, by some miracle shot, I would get engaged tomorrow I'd have no problem coming up with a best man plus a few groomsmen.
The simple truth, though, is that even my best male friendships pale in comparison to my friendships with women.
That's Peter's problem. His whole life he's been more concerned about having a girlfriend and, for a variety of reasons, he's simply never formed male friendships.
Now, however, Peter is engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones) and Zooey's galpals are more than a little concerned about this young, attractive and successful real estate agent whose best friend may very well be his mother (Jane Curtin).
So, Peter sets off to find himself a friend.
It may come as a surprise that this bromance flick is not a Judd Apatow film. It features all of Apatow's trademarks including the male/male bonding, crude humor, an essence of sweetness and an "R" rating.
In fact, the only clue that "I Love You, Man" is not an Apatow film may be that Seth Rogen is nowhere to be found.
In his place, we have Jason Segel as Sydney Fife, a polar opposite of Peter's who lives his life more concerned with the "score" than anything resembling a permanent relationship.
The relationship between Peter and Sydney reminds me of one of my oldest male friends, Victor. In many ways, Victor and I "complete" each other. When we met, I was the quiet, polite and sensitive one who seemed to be adored by all while Victor was the more assertive, fun-loving and willing to shake things up one.
I was Peter. Victor was Sydney.
I'm guessing that most men will be able to reflect on at least one friendship that could easily find its way into the script pages for "I Love You, Man."
While "I Love You, Man" doesn't quite mine the material as richly and satirically as one might hope, the chemistry between Rudd and Segel is so spot-on that even the film's safest, most tame material comes off as funny and authentic. The two bond over a mutual love of the band Rush, and soon this friendship takes flight.
Paul Rudd, who's easily one of the most engaging and intelligent actors working in comedy today, is delightful as the awkward, bumbling Peter. What easily could have become silly, pointless scenes of watching Peter fumble his way through introductions instead becomes charming as Rudd's Peter stumbles over inane, embarrassing pet names, over-emotional goodbyes and the kind of awkward gestures of affection that will likely seem familiar to any guy who has felt that twinge of intimacy in a platonic male friendship.
Segel, on the other hand, is a more brash, "go for it" actor probably most known for his nude scene in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Here, keeps Sydney real enough that he never becomes a caricature of the typical ogre type friend that most men have. He's like the perfect blend of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, the kind of friend who has issues galore but you can't help but love him.
"I Love You, Man" is clearly centered on the relationship between Peter and Sydney, yet director John Hamburg weaves his way delicately and humorously through the ways in which this growing relationship impacts the engagement between Peter and Zooey. While she's not given nearly enough to do, Rashida Jones sparkles during her time onscreen as Peter's ever loyal girlfriend.
J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin, Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau do a fine job in supporting roles, and Lou Ferrigno even shows up in a delightful cameo. After years of suffering through Andy Samberg's poor film selection, he finally gets it right as Peter's far more confident and flamboyant gay brother.
Tech credits are solid throughout "I Love You, Man" and the film features a killer soundtrack destined to please Rush fans.
Naturally funny, occasionally crude, sporadically gross-out and surprisingly insightful, "I Love You, Man" is a feel-good flick that both men and women will enjoy.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic