Bromantic comedy done right

Los Angeles may be one of the most populous cities in the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy place to make friends. Just ask John Hamburg, director of the latest film featuring members of Judd Apatow’s comedy dream team.

“L.A., as much as I enjoy it, I think it’s a very alienating place,” Hamburg said at a press junket on Sunday, March 8, 2009.

“Everybody’s spread out, you’re in your car, you’re in your home, you’re in your office. You can go days with out talking to anybody. And I thought for a movie about a guy trying to find friends, that would be a good alienating kind of city to set it in.”
I Love You Man, opening nationwide on March 20, stars Jason Segel and Paul Rudd as two grown men in search of male friendship.

Segel and Rudd, who worked together in Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are easily believable as pals; you can tell that they have a natural chemistry.

The movie opens with Peter, played by Rudd, proposing to his girlfriend (and best friend… his only friend, actually), Zooey, played by Rashida Jones. Peter and Zooey make a solid couple; in fact Jones said that what sets I Love You, Man apart from similar comedies is the fact that the female characters are dynamic.

“The first thing I was attracted to was that this was a well-rounded character and this was an independent person with a strong point of view,” Jones said. “She wasn’t just the girflfriend of a guy, she’s integral to the story, to the way the movie moves.”

Peter and Zooey are portrayed as the loving couple while Denise and Barry, played by Jamie Pressly and Jon Favreau, constantly bicker. Their relationship is an amusing contrast to that of Peter and Zooey’s.

While Peter and Zooey seem to have the perfect relationship, he overhears her group of girl friends telling her it seems weird that Peter has no male friends. This prompts Peter to start looking for the perfect companion, enlisting the help of his gay brother Robbie, played by a very funny Andy Samberg.

After a string of failed, but hilarious man dates, Peter finally meets Sydney, played by Segel. Rudd and Segel bounce off each other well because their characters are so different; Peter is awkward (Rudd captures this quality perfectly) and more uptight, while Sydney is more carefree and not afraid to say whatever is on his mind.

Their friendship, along with Peter and Zooey’s relationship, are portrayed more realistically than the relationships in many other recent comedies.

Perhaps this is due in part to Larry Levin, the screenplay writer; the movie is actually based on experiences from his own life.

“I said to my wife, ‘You’re my best friend,’ and she said ‘I don’t want to be your best friend,'” he joked at last Sunday’s press junket.

Levin also described the experience that inspired the character of Sydney.

“I was at a party and I met a guy. I said to my wife, I really like this guy, but I never got his number,” he said. “He was sort of the guy that got away.”

Levin originally pitched this idea to Larry David as a Seinfeld episode, but luckily for us, he decided he didn’t get to tell the entire story he wanted to tell in a half hour.

And although I Love You Man may not seem like a romantic comedy upon first glance, it is safe to say that it is indeed one.

However, unlike so many of today’s mainstream romantic comedies, this one avoids overused clichés and unbelievable relationships and plot developments.

“This wasn’t going to be the formulaic comedy of boy meets girl, boy loses girl,” Levin said. “We just let it be more natural.”