[rating: 3/4]

Let’s be honest, folks: “I Love You, Man” exists because the studio and the man on the street need only to hear this five-word pitch: Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. And regardless of the story conceit (guy finds soul-mate, guy’s got no bro-mate), the cliche humor (masturbation, hee!) or the conflict (pick one of us!) works – and works well – thanks to the two stars’ all-round excellence.

Paul Rudd plays a Peter Klaven, a character who’s three parts Paul Rudd and one part Michael Scott; the part that is adorkably awkward and just wants to be liked. Rudd is entirely believable in the role; it feels like great deal of the dialogue was ad-libbed or at least improvised. Certainly Peter’s painful “Jobin” and “Totes McGotes” give “I Love You, Man” an incredible sense of realism.

Directed by: John Hamburg
Written by: John Hamburg and Larry Levin
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Andy Samberg
Run time: 104 minutes
Rating: R

And of course we’ve all had moments where what we say doesn’t precisely come out as planned. Watching Peter stumble over his words is schadenfreude at its finest; we cringe, but we can’t help but laugh. The nonsense that Peter Klaven babbles over the course of the film — and Peter’s total awareness of his lameness — easily supersedes the less-inspired fart jokes as the film’s comedic high point.

Jason Segel is Sydney Fife, the bro half to this bromantic comedy. To Peter, he makes average guy things seem cool and exotic – drinking beer, rocking out to Rush, maintaining a “man cave” –and watching Sydney show Peter the ropes of being, well, a guy comprises most of the movie’s charm.

And Segel does a good job keeping Sydney from being a one-note character. Instead of leaving all the insecurity and awkwardness to Peter, Segel taps into the real-world dilemma of the post-twenties bachelor: what do you do when all your buddies start grading papers instead of barhopping?

While it seems at first that Rudd latches on to Sydney, the film reveals over the course of 103 minutes that it’s far from an unrequited friendship. In the end, the movie isn’t about the “does Peter find a guy to be his friend?” so much as it is, “check out this man-love.”

And therein lies the film’s success. While it is a vehicle for two great comedians to do funny things, it’s also more than that. As hackneyed as this might sound, it’s about the complexity of friendship.

And, hell – it’s Paul Rudd and Jason Segel.

About The Author

Kellen Rice is an editor-at-large. You may love her or hate her. Follow Kellen on Twitter!

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