Even though Judd Apatow had nothing to do with this film (as far as I know), it will inevitably be compared to both "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The 40 Year Old Virgin". It's not very hard to see why, since both male leads are frequently in lead or supporting roles in Apatow-directed or -produced films. Since those two films most especially exceeded many people's expectations, Jason Segel and Paul Rudd both probably had a lot of pressure for this film to be funny. Fortunately, this film succeeded in being as funny and as refreshingly honest as the aforementioned comedies.
"I Love You, Man" is a comedy that doesn't quite fit into the "romantic comedy" or "feel good comedy" categories. It has elements of both, and fortunately, all the right elements.
The premise of the movie is a bit unconventional. Paul Rudd plays Peter Klaven, a moderately successful and ambitious real estate broker who just proposed to his beautiful and articulate girlfriend, played brilliantly by Rashida Jones. He seems to have everything going for him, until he realizes he doesn't have a best guy friend. All his life, he has had woman friends, which isn't a bad thing. However, he feels a void, especially since he doesn't have a best man to choose. He enlists the help of his mother (SNL alum Jane Curtin) and brother (current SNL player Andy Samberg) to find a guy friend, creating a hilarious montage of unsuccessful "man dates". After those attempts don't go well, he spontaneously meets a broker named Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). Through Peter's awkwardness with having a best male friend, they hit it off. However, Peter's cluelessness with what information to share with a male friend as opposed to a female friend creates tension between new friend Sydney, his fiance, and her friends.
The premise is one of the best things about this film. It's safe to say that everyone has had moments where everything is going right except for one minor thing, except it doesn't seem too minor to you the more you think about it. One of the most poignant scenes is when Rudd is driving around L.A., and he sees various types of male bonding. The left-out look on Rudd's face was both heartfelt and understandable. Of course, when he asks his family for help, it's not made clear why he didn't ask his brother to be his best man. The brothers appear to get along well, although once Rudd's character goes on a quest to find a guy friend, Samberg's character appears to get pushed into the background until the very end. Samberg was very funny in this movie, but his character created this tiny plot hole in the film.
That being said, Jason Segel's character was absolutely brilliant, and the opposite of whom he played in both "Freaks and Geeks" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". He's confident in this movie, and his humor comes from street smarts more than awkwardness and self-doubt. That's not to say his previous performances weren't good. Rather, Segel shows in this movie that he's good at playing a different kind of ambitious person. His lines are often times laugh-out-loud funny, and he plays very well off of Paul Rudd's slightly unsure-of-himself character.
Of course, in similar buddy movies, there's always the subplot when a person is either married or in a committed relationship, that the main guy meets an outgoing other guy, they become friends, and they spend so much time together that the wife/steady-girlfriend immediately becomes jealous. This subplot is especially prevalent in movies where Jennifer Aniston is that girl. Here, Rashida Jones plays a far more realistic counterpart to Paul Rudd. She's not immediately jealous of Segel, but there is some friction later in the movie. The most refreshing part is that Jones' character is far more reasonable than other similar characters. Her reactions are familiar, yet she still maintains a calm dignity throughout the movie that's rare, especially in romantic comedies. Jones, a regular on "The Office", shows brilliance in this role. As long as she stays the hell away from chick flicks along the lines of "She's Just Not That Into You", she'll be a welcome face in film, and not just in Judd Apatow-influenced movies.
I highly recommend this picture. It's funny in some of the same ways the aforementioned Judd Apatow films are, but there's another level of refreshing honesty, brilliant writing, laugh out loud humor, and a slightly-unusual plot line that sets it apart from those films. It hasn't been released to theaters yet, but when it does, I hope it's a hit. If the writing team here was worried movie goers would think the film to be "Forgetting Sarah Marshall 2", hopefully they won't have anything to worry about.