Normally, watching a wacky actor vomit into someone’s face would make me roll my eyes and brace for another lame, predictable farce. But when it happens in I Love You, Man, a new comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, it sort of works.
Of course, the story is still predictable. Peter Klaven (Rudd) is a great boyfriend without any friends. When Klaven overhears his new fiancÃ© (Rashida Jones) and her friends worrying about his lack of guy pals, he goes on a mission to find a best friend and best man for his wedding.
I’m pretty sure you can guess the rest — a comical group of failed friendships leads right to Sydney Fife (Segal), the friend of Klaven’s dreams, and the two engage in a series of hilarious hijinks together. Like I said, it’s a predictable story that includes the tired vomit-in-the-face gag. But it works for two reasons.
- Director John Hamburg and writer Larry Levin tell a real story. It’s predictable, but it’s something that could have actually happened to your cousin’s friend’s co-worker who actually almost vomited in some guy’s face and then exaggerated the story over time. It’s funny. It’s just a real, predictable, funny story.
- Rudd and Segel completely nail it. Rudd plays the calm, quirky guy who reminds you of someone you know, cool but a bit socially awkward. Segel, meanwhile, plays off of it perfectly by being a slightly over-the-top but totally lovable wild guy.
And while the supporting cast were mostly overshadowed by Rudd and Segel, there were a few performances worth mentioning. Rashida Jones is great as Rudd’s conflicted fiancÃ©, in her first major film role, and Andy Samberg doesn’t overdo it as Rudd’s gay, body-building brother. And who can forget Lou Ferrigno’s stunning performance as himself? In fact, the supporting cast played their roles perfectly by staying out of the way, something that seems surprisingly hard to do.
But as these two strong characters begin to build their friendship, the dialogue does take a turn toward the kind of conversation you’d expect to hear in a garage known as “The Man Cave”. If you’re offended by even the brief mention of a “masturbation station,” you’ll probably find yourself wincing in more than a few places. But if you’ve made it through an episode of The Family Guy lately, you shouldn’t worry. I Love You, Man is far less ridiculous and a whole lot funnier.
As a friend of mine described it, I Love You, Man is a romantic comedy for guys. And it’s true, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s the best comedy of the year so far.