Raunch drives bromantic comedy

Staff writerMarch 20, 2009 

  • C Cast: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly

    Director: John Hamburg

    Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes

    Web site: www.iloveyouman.com

    Rating: R (pervasive language, including crude and sexual references)

    Theaters

    Apex: Beaver Creek. Cary: Crossroads. Chapel Hill: Timberlyne. Durham: Northgate. Southpoint. Wynnsong. Garner: Towne Square. White Oak. Morrisville: Park Place. Raleigh: Brier Creek. Carmike. Grande. Mission Valley. North Hills. Wakefield. Roxboro: Palace. Smithfield: Smithfield.

Are you man enough to say it?

Writer/director John Hamburg should have started out by asking whether HE is man enough to spin a tale of heterosexual male bonding.

His misguided romantic comedy "I Love You, Man" follows Peter Klaven's search for a male best friend. Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a successful Hollywood real estate agent in desperate need of a shot of testosterone. After asking Zooey (Rashida Jones) to marry him, Peter realizes he has no close male friend to serve as best man. And it's no wonder. He doesn't drink. He doesn't know how to play poker. He doesn't watch sports or pornography. His favorite activities include fencing and watching "Chocolat" with Zooey. He seems completely unable to relate to men.

Klaven enlists the help of his über macho, albeit gay brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) and sets out on an endless string of man-dates to find his new best friend. What follows is a classic laundry list of every failed blind dating experience under the sun, complete with cyber misrepresentation and unwanted physical advances.

Just when Peter has given up, he bumps into free-spirited Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) at an open house. Sydney is cruising for lonely divorcées and free paninis. He gives Peter a little lesson in body language of flatulence, and the two hit it off. Peter agonizes over calling Sydney for a man-date just as he would if he were calling a girl for the first time. He leaves the most awkward voicemail message since Jon Favreau's Mike in "Swingers."

The two go out and before you know it, they're taking long walks on the Venice boardwalk and jamming to Rush.

Rudd plays Peter as a verbally incontinent spaz who can't even say "slap the bass" without sounding like a deranged Leprechaun. He comes off more feminine than masculine deficient. Segel gives Sydney an adolescent bohemian vibe. He's a successful investor who spends his days hidden in the ultimate men's leisure center; it has three TVs, a sound system, beer, jam band instruments, and more. Naturally, as Peter starts to break out of his shell and Sydney finds someone to worship him, trouble with Peter's fiancé begins. The film's dramatic climax is a romantic comedy cliché.

Though the premise of this film is utterly ridiculous, the journey is quite hilarious. If you can get past the force-fed sentimentality and homosexual overtones, you're left with an unapologetically raunchy comedy. Hamburg's dialogue provides plenty of quotable fodder. The supporting characters include a husband and wife team who put as much energy into their fighting as the makeup sex and a dog that looks just like late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat. Not to mention granny porn, piles of dog poop and the funniest projectile vomiting scene I've ever scene.

Still, "I Love You, Man" tries too hard to prove the legitimacy of male intimacy. Male bonding can't be orchestrated. Just go with the flow and enjoy yourself.

andrea.jones@newsobserver.com

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