Brotherly love ha-ha

BY DAN WATSON | MARCH 23, 2009 7:30 AM

Film Review: I Love You, Man
***1/2 out of *****

Another movie made with connections to the “Apatow gang,” another comical — and probably financial — success. In I Love You, Man, today’s most prominent funnymen make another movie that lacks in story line but scores with witty dialogue and solid performances.

Whether these quirky guys are making movies about teenagers trying to have sex, getting a girl pregnant, or trying to get a middle-aged friend laid, they know how to tell hilarious stories without heavily relying on slapstick humor or far-fetched plots.

I Love You, Man’s story line is even more straightforward than its predecessors. Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a real-estate agent in Los Angeles who, because of an absence of male friends, doesn’t have a best man for his upcoming wedding. When he overhears fiancée Zooey (Rashida Jones) and her friends discussing Peter’s bizarre bro-less situation, he decides to go on a best-man hunt. After a few “man dates” Peter randomly meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), and a bromance ensues.

Peter and Sydney don’t kick off their relationship until around 30 minutes into the movie, and it’s just in time. Before Sydney is introduced, the audience is brought along for Peter’s best-man quest, and the sequence offers insight to Peter’s awkwardness around other males. His discomfort only works reflectively, when complemented by Sydney’s hilarious insights regarding it, but without balance provided by other characters, the odd tension just becomes annoying. With his abbreviation slang and general confusion in public gatherings, Peter is essentially a big screen version of Michael Scott in “The Office.” But unlike Michael, Peter is conscious of his flaws, making him more of a sad loser than a funny jerk.

Once Sydney is finally brought into the story, I Love You, Man becomes comical and much less awkward. Peter’s flaws quickly become outrageously hilarious when paired with Sydney’s comebacks. Segel’s character is pretty much the antithesis of Peter Bretter, his role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Instead of the emotionally feminine whiner, Sydney is the confident macho man — so confident in his masculinity he can still wear Uggs and have a tiny dog.

Sydney’s funniest moments come during the worst occasions. When toasting Peter during his engagement party, Sydney pushes for Zooey to give Peter more “blowies,” and a sleeper hold from Lou Ferrigno (yes, the Hulk) is the result of Sydney running his mouth off at the bodybuilder.

While Rudd and Segel garner most of the screen time, I Love You, Man has a small army of useful minor characters. It is great to see a somewhat overweight Jon Favreau with a “Jew fro” playing a complete asshole, stealing many scenes with his wife, played by Jaime Pressly. J.K. Simmons, the always funny master of comic timing, is hilarious as Peter’s father. And Andy Samberg delivers a surprisingly good performance as Peter’s gay brother, who says he chases “straight guys because they are more of a challenge.”

While the minds behind I Love You, Man try to sell the film’s “bromance” aspect in its trailers, the movie functions better as a comedy that happens to be about dudes and not a comedy for dudes. The relationship humor is so extensive it could even function as a great date movie, even if you want to bring your closest bro.

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