There's something about Paul Rudd. One of the most likeable screen actors of his age group, Rudd paid his dues in supporting roles for years but, as this shows, he's a class leading man. There's also something about Jason Segel. One of Seth Rogen's posse in 'Knocked Up' and the dumped boyfriend in 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall', Segel has more charisma than a minibus-load of A-Listers. Both men will hopefully go on to better films than 'I Love You, Man', but, until then, there are some good laughs to be had here.
Quite possibly the nicest man in California, estate agent Peter Klaven (Rudd) has proposed to Zooey Rice (Jones), his girlfriend of eight months. For Peter, there's just one small problem: he doesn't have a close male friend to be his best man. So, he meets some candidates on a series of 'man dates' and finds it a more harrowing experience than getting down on bended knee. Then along comes Sydney Fife (Segel): fearless, a free spirit and basically everything else that Peter is not. He seems perfect for the job, but as Peter gets closer to him, it looks like Sydney could cost him the big day...
John Hamburg also directed 'Along Came Polly' and if you liked the Ben Stiller-Philip Seymour Hoffman dynamic in that movie, you're going to get a kick out of Rudd and Segel in full flight here. One of those date movies about the differences between men and women and why people in relationships should say what's on their minds, 'I Love You, Man' is chock full of those moments of social awkwardness and stupid answers that we can all identify with. Faced with the coolness of Sydney, Peter tries to come up to his chill level, only to fall flat on his face every time.
The problem with 'I Love You, Man' is its inconsistency. Had all the scenes been as excruciatingly funny as Sydney's dinner speech to friends and family, this would have been a classic. Instead, there are times when the story drags - very bad news in a comedy - and for all his scene stealing brilliance, Segel's Sydney remains badly underdeveloped. Just why is he the way he is? What's really going on behind the bravado? Did he have his heart broken? We never find out - and the film is the poorer for it.