Peter (Paul Rudd) is a Real Estate Agent who doesn’t have any guy friends. He loves Chocolat and pronounces it correctly, which is to say, like a poof. He’s not gay, he’s just soft and squishy and utterly unfamiliar in the ways of man, lost when it comes to stuff like noncommittal grunts and fist bumps and why 5 spades beats trip queens. When coming home early to his fiancée Zooey (Rashida Jones,) he hears a veritable henhouse full of her friends clucking about how he’s a clingy nightmare waiting to happen, and decides he needs to go get himself some man-panions. So Rudd taps his little brother, a gay personal trainer played by Andy Samberg, who keeps accidentally channeling Mark Wahlberg with his performance. Or maybe not, considering the role.
Jesus Christ Rashida Jones is hypnotizing to look at.
An extended series of “man-date mishaps” ensues, mostly forced and implausible instead of funny. I guess the concept of taking montage sequences from shitty Jennifer Aniston movies and swapping out the masculine Aniston for the comparatively feminine (ish) Paul Rudd makes sense aesthetically, but The Office, has gotten America used to awkward humor in a way that feels much more honest than I Love You Man can even dream of being, even when Thomas Lennon is going all Catwoman on Rudd’s face.
But just when Rudd has given up, he meets Sydney (Jason Segel) while showing off Lou Ferrigno’s house to prospective buyers. Bad timing for a film about Rich Real Estate Agents struggling to sell Million Dollar Homes to Other Rich People. If this comes out a year ago, not so bad. But now? Who gives a fuck if nobody buys Lou Ferrigno’s mansion in the hills. Fuck his mansion. I rent a single bedroom house 1 block down from a Russian Orthodox Beet Cartel or something. I’m having problems sympathizing with Rudd’s troubles.
But seriously though, Rashida Jones is hot like volcanos erupting suns in hell. So Rudd and Segel hit it off, true “Bromance” evolves, and all the formulaic things you would expect to happen in a rom-com unfold in genuinely funny ways once these two are allowed to just ping-pong off each other. Director John Hamburg effectively twists the romantic-comedy into a real, honest-to-god buddy film, in a way the forced “Man-panion” bullshit just can’t. Of course, the close friendship will put a wedge inbetween Peter and Zooey, jeopardizing their perfect day. Can Peter balance being besties with being there for his bride-to be?
Segel is great as a sloppy, shambling, beer-guzzling version of Tim Roth’s character in Lie To Me by way of Annie Hall. Rudd is basically playing an emasculated version of the nerdy dope Alicia Silverstone had a crush on in Clueless. He was good then, he’s even better now. And Hamburg must have cashed in a ton of favors, as the flick is littered with smile-inducing appearances from JK Simmons, Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel, and especially Jon Favreau, who owns every minute he’s onscreen as a cigar chomping alpha male, more man than even Lou Ferrigno, who plays himself as a pissed off homeowner. Zooey’s friends however, aren’t handled as lightly: Jaime Pressly plays a bitch (surprise) and Sarah Burns plays an even more annoying bitch. Honestly, you wonder what’s wrong with Zooey that she’s marrying Peter and hanging out with these two cougars.
I Love You Man is a movie that should have come out about a year ago, when the concept of something as insipid as “man-dating” still had some traction. That concept takes a frequently funny buddy comedy and dresses it like a misguided tribute to a stillborn cultural meme, when it’s actually closer to a minor-key inversion of Wedding Crashers. Not only is it good enough to get Segel and Rudd the cover of Vanity Fair, it gives you a chance to ogle Rashida Jones for about 90 minutes.