I Love You, Man

4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
Jason Segel in I Love You, Man
I AM GEDDY, HEAR ME ROAR Segel unleashes his inner prog.

Pushing the male-male rom-com into its bro-oque phase, I Love You, Man has the perfect Apatovian title, even if it doesn’t have that producer-director’s actual involvement. And yet, the resemblances are uncanny: Knocked Up’s Paul Rudd extends further into awkward sweet-guy mode, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Jason Segel confidently pushes his dramatic range, and the script (credited to director John Hamburg and Larry Levin) hews closer to gentle maturation than to the art of grossing out.

Still, the setup is deceptive: Peter (Rudd), freshly engaged, finds himself in the distinctly un-Judd-like position of having no real male friends to represent him at the altar. It’s a flaw that’s led him to the lovely Zooey (Jones) but also to the quiet concern of Zooey’s girlfriends, whom Peter surprises from the kitchen with root beer floats and his affectionate availability. Shamed, he embarks on a series of “man dates”—none of which, to the film’s credit, are presented as especially panicky, even though one ends with a sweet kiss. Meeting Sydney (Segel), a Venice Beach bachelor with a “man cave” filled with musical instruments, Peter hits pay dirt. But will he emerge from the rock cocoon?

The subject here is hetero male love (good enough for Howard Hawks), and there’s a freshness in seeing the topic run through today’s geeked-out codes: desperately “cool” nicknames; cringeworthy sex advice; an obsession with Canadian rock trio Rush. (Jones’s befuddlement at hearing a tinny laptop blare “Limelight” taps into a universal beta-dude fear.) I Love You, Man softens only when it strays to redundancies, like a plot strand involving Lou Ferrigno. The Hulk wanna-bes, Peter and Sydney, are far funnier.
—Joshua Rothkopf

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