D: John Hamburg. DP: Lawrence Sher. W: John Hamburg/Larry Levin. Starring: Paul Rudd/Rashida Jones/Jason Segel/Jon Favreau/Jamie Pressly/Andy Samberg/Sarah Burns.
Finally the big screen bromance film this generation has been waiting for. Already used as the premise of a MTV reality series, bromance proudly embraces the heterosexual bond between men. A bond that is so ingrained in our psyche and cultural signifiers, such as marriage, that the lack of it is such a shock it induces worry in I Love You, Man.
As Peter (Rudd) gets down on his knee to usher in the next phase of his coupling with Zooey (Jones) we are begged to ask what’s wrong? Rudd’s a man with a plan for his real estate game and Zooey seems perfectly smitten with the prospect of joining her expert man in the next stage. But what is wrong we learn is that although Rudd may be an excellent boyfriend he lacks his own social circle of friends or in other words, bromance. Rudd works well here, succumbing to Peter’s awkward exchanges and nervousness that reveal his inability to consistently relate to other men or put his own personality up for grabs. When he does finally meet Segel’s Sydney, we are relieved because it seems it’s a match made in weird boy heaven where Segel’s patience for Rudd pays off in the end.
Rudd and Segel are the real couple in the film, generating as much laughter as Rudd’s exclamation of “fuck” every time his man dates go wrong or his use of a nickname is painfully squashed. And it is this couple that carries the film as unfortunately Jones is given few moments to shine as Rudd’s supportive fiancee and her friends seem labeled as stock single friend and stock married friend. However, Samberg is delightful as Rudd’s gay brother Robbie and we only wonder why Rudd never tries to be closer to his own brother? Despite all this, and an annoyingly cutesy ending, the film begs a lot of questions about friendship and how films construct notions of realtionship between friend couples and romantic couples.
Why do mens sensibilities have to lean towards their own sex? Does it matter where we find emotional solace? What happens to male singles as all their friends go off, get hitched and have kids? Not every man elects the bachelor lifestyle (or so I’m told). So why shouldn’t men feel similar to women, maybe not mad at the world for their situation, but rather disgruntled that their team is smaller on the playground. Although this is not the central theme in I Love You, Man, it is still pertinent today as the culture of marriage continues to evolve and modern lifestyles continue to accommodate reluctant coupling. Lastly, what the film does remind us to do is laugh. Laugh because it’s all a big game and the wedding is just once.