It wouldn’t take a great deal of effort to put together a completely accurate and entirely damning review of I Love You, Man, because so much of the material is irritating and a blatant waste of seemingly endless resources. So let’s get the negative stuff out of the way right now. To start, the term “bro-mance” and all of its permutations need to be put away, now and forever. The endless billing of I Love You, Man as a bro-mance, even after having seen it and enjoyed it, almost makes me hate the movie retroactively. And as if that term weren’t abhorrent enough, the movie is littered with eternally execrable modern phraseology such as “man-date,” and “man-cave.”
What’s more, this movie squanders a great deal of its supporting cast in roles that make the least of their talents. You’d never know from his grating, squeaky-voiced character that Joe Lo Truglio is one the funniest comedic actors around. Andy Samberg is given nearly nothing to do, and his boredom is contagious. J.K. Simmons and Thomas Lennon do what they can with the little they’re given, and Rashida Jones is merely here to set up jokes for Paul Rudd. Director John Hamburg, though he has improved considerably since the nadir days of Along Came Polly, tries to shift the movie from sweet-natured to sophomoric and back with none of the grace necessary to make such a transition (Judd Apatow is much better at this). And if I wanted to get really pissy, I could note the completely incongruous indie-safe soundtrack which features Spoon’s “The Underdog” and two Vampire Weekend songs … and now I have.
Oh, and of course, the film’s plot is thinner than paper, which is barely worth regurgitating here, but here goes: Peter Klaven (Rudd) is engaged to Zooey (Jones), but is suddenly aware that he has no real male friends to be his best man at his wedding. Klaven, feeling weird about this, begins a quest to develop some male friendships, which inevitably leads him to Segel’s Sydney Fife. That’s really about it.
Yet, in spite of so much wrong, I Love You, Man manages to be incredibly enjoyable. The brunt of the credit for that goes directly to Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, who both manage to rise above the script’s frequent pitfalls and carve out their own quirky comedic universe. Rudd has appeared in some truly shitty movies (Over Her Dead Body) where he’s appeared content to crack wise and basically amuse himself while every other element of the movie falls apart around him. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s the star here, but Rudd fully commits to his character and all of his genial neuroses, which turns out to be enough to carry a movie. His Peter Klaven is a charming comic creation, a man who, when forced to interact with other men, resorts to incomprehensible nicknames and trite banter out of endearing confusion and inexperience. Additionally, what we’ve come to know as Rudd’s sense of humor is a constant presence in I Love You, Man. Likewise, Segel manages to take a role that basically requires him to be ethereally cool and wise and invest it with a combination of genuine sensitivity and an off-kilter sense of humor. The chemistry between the two leads is unquestionably the most invaluable element of I Love You, Man, and proof that little more than proper casting can make a movie.
As far as determining whether or not you need to own this on DVD, it’s unlikely that the extra features will push you in either direction. There’s a gag reel, an amusing commentary track from Hamburg, Rudd, and Segel, and deleted and extended scenes, but it’s doubtful these extras will have any effect on your opinion of the movie. The features, like the movie, are slapdash and inconsequential but a good time nonetheless.