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THE SCREENING ROOM | A Chick's Take on 'Bromance'
On my way out the office door to see “I Love You, Man,” the latest in silver screen buddy comedies, my coworker Brian spoke up.
Half-joking, half-trying to likewise land himself in a movie theater early on a Friday afternoon, he asked, “Hey, shouldn’t a guy review that one?”
Sure, all you Gloria Steinem-influenced thinkers out there might bristle at his quip, but truth be told, he has a point. Afterall, “I Love You, Man” follows two male pals who meet-cute over a fart joke and unite spending time in a garage-modified Man Cave: It contains guitars, drums, a Rush mega-shrine and prime La-Z-Boy accommodations.
Before the previews flicked on screen, I had to ask the question: Like any syrupy chick flick, would this be a boys-only event, the cinematic equivalent of a smoke-shrouded poker night? And in showing up with my double-X chromosomes, would I be the parallel of a rough-and-tumble huntsman standing in line wearing full camouflage gear to watch a Jane Austen remake?
As it turns out, I already had my answer.
“I Love You, Man” is no different than, though a lesser example of, the budding bromantic genre Hollywood has been crushing on for the last few years, appreciable by guys and gals alike. To be fair, it isn’t new: There was Laurel and Hardy, Butch and Sundance.
But think “Superbad,” “The Pineapple Express” or “The 40 Year Old Virgin” — adult comeuppance comedies pandering vomit humor for show, but rather sentimental below the surface.
In “I Love You, Man,” it’s real estate agent Peter Klaven who’s in need of a little male bonding. Played easily by funnyman Paul Rudd (“Role Models”), Klaven is a slight, sweater-vested, doting fiance, a man happy to dally in the kitchen and spend Sunday nights watching HBO with his bride-to-be. But when he realizes he has no male friends to speak of — no one to be his best man — Peter lassos the help of his gay brother (a riotous Andy Samberg) to set him up on some “man dates.”
One too many sexual misunderstandings later, Peter finally happens upon the chum of his dreams at one of his open houses, where uninhibited Venice free-wheeler Sydney Fife (Jason Segel of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “How I Met Your Mother” fame) has come for the free food and lonely divorcees.
From there, the movie takes the obvious turns, without bypassing comedic gold as Peter attempts to solidify his friendship with Sydney by coming up with nicknames (Jobin?) or leaving smooth phone messages (See: “No rush, call me back whenever you get a mo.”)
Their dialogue sports an improvised feel, which is just where Rudd happens to shine, and the physical difference between the two — one tall and structured, the other short and lithe — plays into their slacker-meets-fussbudget chemistry.
Director John Hamburg (“Along Came Polly”) pulled out some big names for the side bananas, including Jon Favreau as a macho male friend of Peter’s fiance, Jane Curtain and J.K. Simmons as Peter’s parents and Lou Ferrigno in a great bit as himself.
Though, as it often goes in similar flicks, the female characters are woefully understocked in texture and depth, “I Love You, Man” offers a decent, albeit easily outmatched, serving in that primordial drive for man companionship. Already beat by predecessors who’ve done it better — including “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Rudd and Segel’s last team-up — “I Love You, Man” goes to show buddy comedies aren’t going anywhere: They’ve entered the cultural consciousness, cracked one open and are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
When not in the Screening Room, Jennifer Morris muses on the theater of the City of Poulsbo for the North Kitsap Herald.