It’s pretty hard not to fall for Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in just about anything either of them do (go rent Role Models to see what we mean—or Forgetting Sarah Marshall). In I Love You, Man, co-written by Larry Levin and director John Hamburg (Along Came Polly), Mr. Rudd plays the endearing Peter Klaven, a guy described as a “girlfriend” guy who has let male friendships fall by the wayside while dating women. After he proposes to his fiancée (Rashida Jones), he realizes how totally lacking in male friends he is when he doesn’t have a single candidate to be his best man. With some urging from his girlfriend, he sets out to find a buddy, hopefully someone who will stand up with him on his wedding day. After a couple of disastrous starts (including one of the more shocking-and-then-funny sight gags, courtesy of Jon Favreau), Peter meets Sydney Fife (Mr. Segel), a lanky, arrested-development sort of fellow who seems in every way Peter’s opposite. Hijinks, of course, ensue.
The film follows all of the romantic comedy genre conventions: a meet cute, a slow getting-to-know-you dance, a third act obstacle and eventual satisfying conclusion. It just happens that this movie is about platonic male friendship instead of boy-meets-girl romance, and so it also tends to be a lot funnier. Mr. Hamburg thankfully allows all of his characters—not just his two principles—to have real lives and personalities, and the supporting cast, which includes the always-great J. K. Simmons, Jaime Pressly, Jane Curtin and Andy Samberg, is hilarious. Even better, unlike other comedies of its ilk, I Love You, Man doesn’t have “the girlfriend” head into shrewish nagging territory or use the homosexual characters, in particular Mr. Samberg, for stereotypical cheap laughs or queasy ha-ha-ha-we’re-so-gay-but-not-really-not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-that gags. Instead the film is sharp and witty without ever veering into nasty, and at its inner core all sweetness.
I Love You, Man opens Friday at Regal E-Walk and Regal Battery Park.