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The Object of His Disaffection

I Love You, Man (2009)

Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures

Paul Rudd and Jason Segel grace the cover of the April issue of Vanity Fair, where they join Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill as the faces of a group the magazine calls “Comedy’s New Legends.” It’d be hard to argue about the pronouncement or, really, about the choices of cover stars, although Will Ferrell and Steve Carell might have something to say about that.

If the actors want to convince the general public of the validity of that designation, they’ll have to do better than “I Love You, Man,” their slight, sporadically funny new starring vehicle. The movie presents Messrs. Rudd and Segel as vague abstractions on their real-life personas – the former, a super sweet nice guy; the latter, a vaguely rebellious nice guy – sticks on a high-concept premise and calls it a day.

Peter Klaven (Mr. Rudd) proposes to Zooey (Rashida Jones) and comes to a shocking realization: He’s without a single best man prospect. To remedy the problem, he embarks on a series of man dates that culminate in a chance encounter with Sydney Fife (Mr. Segel), an entrepreneur and ladies' man. The men start hanging out – a lot, and Peter sheds his facile exterior to reveal his inner wild child.

The screenplay’s idea of bad, manly behavior is “slapping the base” (as Peter says, over and over) to Rush or letting your dog defecate wherever it wants on Venice, and then – get this – not cleaning it up. The movie offers little beyond a parade of such activities interspersed with some nice Los Angeles scenery and picturesque looks of exasperation provided by Ms. Jones.

Although Messrs. Rudd and Segel are charming guys, and it can be a kick to watch them throw improvised riffs at one another, that’s not sufficient justification for an entire movie. The insights into man love, and the peculiar hang ups men can have when it comes to relating to one another emotionally, are pretty shallow and certainly not applicable to a wide swath of the straight population, including this critic.


Opens on March 20 in the United States and on April 17 in Britain.

Directed by John Hamburg; written by Mr. Hamburg and Larry Levin, based on a story by Mr. Levin; director of photography, Lawrence Sher; edited by William Kerr; music by Theodore Shapiro; production designer, Andrew Laws; produced by Donald De Line and Mr. Hamburg; released by DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Paul Rudd (Peter Klaven), Jason Segel (Sydney Fife), Rashida Jones (Zooey), Andy Samberg (Robbie), J. K. Simmons (Oz), Jane Curtin (Joyce), Jon Favreau (Barry) and Jaime Pressly (Denise).


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