MOVIE REVIEW- Bro-mance: <i>Love You</i> full of laughs


I Love You, Man is a "pleasure-giver," though not the way the term is defined in the movie. This bro-mantic comedy has fun upsetting preconceived definitions of gender roles and intra-gender as well as inter-gender relations.

That sounds as hilarious as a thesis on cancer, so I'd better start over.

L.A. real estate agent Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) isn't what you'd call a "man's man"– his favorite sport is fencing. He's never formed close friendships with other men, having focused instead on trying to find the right woman.

He's finally found her: Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones), who shares all their intimate secrets with her close friends and business partners, Hailey (Sarah Burns) and Denise (Jaime Pressly). Not until they get engaged does Peter realize he doesn't have a friend to serve as his best man.

The script's biggest problem is that Peter has a younger brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg), who would be the obvious choice. It's one of those "then there wouldn't be a movie" situations, since the movie's about Peter finding a friend and learning to be a friend. It would help if there were conflict between the brothers, but that's avoided because Robbie's gay, and it might be read as homophobic.

Robbie's orientation is established up front at a meal with their parents (J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtin). Manly Dad, who has more in common with athletic Robbie than introverted Peter, says Robbie always had a lot of friends growing up. After speculating on the reason, he responds to disapproving looks by declaring, "My son is a gay man, and I embrace his lifestyle."

Robbie introduces Peter to the concept of "man-dates," which don't work out too well for him. An Internet date doesn't match his photo– by about 60 years– and the guy Mom fixes him up with (Thomas Lennon of Reno 911!) should be dating Robbie instead.

It's true that when you stop looking for someone, that's when you find them. Peter meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel of Forgetting Sarah Marshall) at an open house he gives to find a buyer for Lou Ferrigno's house. (Ferrigno comes in for some good-natured ribbing, even participating in it when he appears later in the film.) Sydney admits he just goes to open houses for the food and to hit on wealthy divorcées.

The men are so dissimilar they hit it off right away. If they were "The Odd Couple," Peter would be Felix and Sydney would be Oscar; but they both believe in saying what they mean, and they enjoy jamming to Rush songs. Before long, they're hanging out together so much Zooey feels like she's competing for Peter's attention.

Of Zooey's friends, Hailey is single and desperate. Denise has a stormy marriage to Barry (Jon Favreau). They fight all the time but have great makeup sex. She says she doesn't worry about him cheating on her because he's "40 pounds overweight with a Jewfro and a small dick."

The dialogue in I Love You, Man is crude, not always in a natural-sounding way, but often hilarious. This is a movie you should see early, before your friends give away all the good stuff. Ordinarily, projectile vomit gags make me want to vomit (or at least gag), but I cracked up at one here.

Director John Hamburg, who wrote the screenplay with Larry Levin, should have reined in the actors' improvisation a bit or been more ruthless in the editing room. Rudd does too much "adorably dorky" shtick, even though he does it well. The same goes for Segel wearing his inner animal on the outside, but so much of I Love You, Man is so funny that you can forgive it its excesses.