In 2005, Judd Apatow's 40-Year-Old Virgin ushered in a new era of comedy that often fuses good old-fashioned crotch and fart humor with the subtleties of heart and loyalty that lie hidden behind what used to be archetypical of a 'dude. ' Ergo, a recent viewing of 2000's disappointing Dude, Where's My Car reminded me that you can not always expect this 'best of both worlds' in male-centric comedic film making.
Fortunately for dudes like me, Apatow-esque films are now turning enough heads in Hollywood that you can almost bank on a smart yet fun, hysterical yet thought-provoking, and crude yet not rude, adult (read: R-rated) comedy release every three months or so.
Out last Friday and waiting to make you piss yourself in a theater near you is I Love You, Man, the newest (and one of the best) installations of the burgeoning 'bromance' genre. In fact, the term bromance is especially pertinent to this film, as the seemingly simplistic plot has Peter Klavin (the ever versatile Paul Rudd) going on a series of 'man-dates' to find a best friend in time for his impending wedding. The genius behind I Love You, Man is that everyone involved (especially director / writer John Hamburg) understands the complexities and nuances of being a dude.
Or, in 'Pistol' Pete Klavin's case, trying to be a dude. You see, somewhere along the way, Pete became one of those guys that always had a girlfriend. He missed the dude bus, as it were. Rudd's performance is one that throttles hilariously ahead as Pete proves more and more inept in the ways of hangin 'out. He mines the depths of a man so confident in his refreshingly respectful way with women that he apparently has never spent more than half a beer and a 'what's up?' with another 'bro.' That is, until he meets Sydney Fife.
Sydney Fife (Jason Segel; even better here than in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Pete's long awaited 'manlove' interest, is noticeably absent through the first quarter of the movie. Tension builds as Pete, intent at first to appease his fiance's wishes for a well-rounded wedding party, goes through a host of losers who do not end up making the grade. Finally, Sydney attends an open house Pete is hosting at Lou Ferrigno's. Sydney, there just to eat the free food and land a widowed cougar, seduces Pete (not to mention the audience) with that pure, honest, unadulterated dudeness that these disciples of Apatow have honed into an art.
The rest of the film follows the ups and downs of a typical romantic comedy; there's even a break up or two. What is not typical is the way the actors relish the truthful, undignified loyalty between men who just want to hang out, listen to Rush, talk about oral sex, and bond over beer. All relationships are built on trust. I think we tend focus on maritime unions as our highest forms of human love for one another. In I Love You, Man Pete and Sydney discover that male-bonding is just as important. Without 'man-time,' you're likely to be 'slappin' da bass, mon 'all by yourself. And even your girlfriend or wife, if they really love you, would not want that. So, grab your best bro, sneak a couple brew-doggers, and prepare to rock out to Rudd, Segal, and Rush. They're playing in your city tonight.
As a post-script to this review, I just want to say that even though Paul Rudd has not replied to my Facebook friend request, I still think he's the bomb. Not to mention a modern-day warrior with a mean, mean stride.
By Ian Sawyer
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