I Love You, Man (2009)

Director:  John Hamburg
Paul RuddRashida JonesSarah Burns

Plot:  Friendless Peter Klaven goes on a series of man-dates to find a best man for his wedding.

Comedy / Romance
Awards:  -

Runtime:  105min

Rating:  NC16
for pervasive language, including crude and sexual references.

Is this a Judd Apatow film?  No, it is a John Hamburg film.  I Love You, Man is one of the more accomplished romantic-comedies of the year.  And it is hard to believe that Apatow was not involved. After the success of The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005) and Knocked Up (2007), Apatow’s singular influence in a new modern sub-genre - adult rom-coms with a heart - has perhaps finally found a non-Apatow offering a worthy entry to add to its cause.  

Peter Klaven is getting married soon.  He is popular with girls but he has no close male friends.  So when it is time to select a best man for his wedding, he is faced with the embarrassing prospect of selecting nobody.  At an open house, he meets Sydney Fife and what comes next is the beginning of a very beautiful friendship.  The film works out to be like a generic comedy about the bonds of brotherhood and what not.  But unlike its kind, the film is made with a kind of zest and energy that invite viewers to embrace it. 

I Love You, Man is written and directed by Hamburg, whose strong focus on character development here is the film’s most outstanding achievement.  The characters Peter (Paul Rudd) and Sydney (Jason Segel) are wonderfully portrayed by their actors whose roles are not only excellently-written, they are naturally appealing to viewers as well because they seem like the kind of people we might know.  The chemistry between Rudd and Segel is just right, never awkward, and never gayish. 

The film’s dialogue is another plus point.  This is where similarities to Apatow’s films become more noticeable.  The script is saucy with a fair number of references to sexual behavior from blowjobs to masturbation and one amusing observation of someone attempting to fart secretly.  Yet most laughs are generated by the remarkable comic timing that comes from Rudd especially in scenes when his character fumbles socially with men and during initial nervous attempts at conversing with Sydney.

Most crucially, Hamburg’s film has such a light-hearted honesty to it that it is difficult not to enjoy the tonic.  It is the kind of film that you would love to see again, maybe this time with another bro-mate.  Please stay for the end credits for more scenes of Rudd, Segel and their friends.  Till this point, the characters have been so well-developed (including supporting ones) that one glance at their faces and you could probably describe their Facebook profile without seeing it and getting it real close.  I Love You, Man may not be very, very hilarious, but it certainly has a soul. And for a rom-com, that is as close as being godly.

GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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