- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

It’s a sign of just how bleak the cinematic landscape was before the resurgence of the R-rated adult comedy that even an Apatow-lite retread like “I Love You, Man” scores huge laughs in the theater.

This isn’t to say that “I Love You, Man” is a bad film, or an unsuccessful comedy. It’s neither. The chemistry between leading men Paul Rudd and Jason Segel is fantastic; the setup, although slightly ridiculous, yields a mother lode of comedic situations; and the supporting cast is surprisingly robust.

That said, the movie’s not terribly original — yet another look at friendships between socially awkward men who probably need to grow up a little. If you’re fond of “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and the rest of that breed of comedy, you’ll get a huge kick out of director/writer John Hamburg’s “I Love You, Man.”

Peter Klaven (Mr. Rudd) is set to marry Zooey (Rashida Jones), but there’s a problem: He’s not close enough to any of his male friends to fill out a wedding party. Even the old fallback, a father or brother, isn’t available, since his dad (J.K. Simmons) and brother (Andy Samberg) proclaim each other their best friends.

Adding to Peter’s worries are pressures at work. He’s a real estate agent trying to sell Lou Ferrigno’s house (Mr. Ferrigno plays himself) in the hopes of using the commission to purchase a tract of land he wants to develop, the profits of which will set him and Zooey up quite nicely. Unfortunately, a fellow real estate agent and real creep named Tevin (Rob Huebel) is trying to capitalize on Peter’s struggles to move the property and steal half the commission.

Enter Sydney (Mr. Segel), a drifter who hits up open houses in the Hollywood Hills looking for lonely ladies to pick up. He stops by Mr. Ferrigno’s open house, strikes up a conversation with Peter, and the rest is kismet — he helps solve both Peter’s wedding quandary and his business problems.

The far-fetched premise strains credulity more and more as the movie progresses, but at the same time, it furnishes a bounty of incredibly funny scenes, a number of which involve the female castmates — unusual for this brand of comedy.

Miss Jones and her female friends, played by Jaime Pressly and Sarah Burns, aren’t harried shrews or bitter harpies; they’re legitimately funny in their own rights and provide a nice balance for the male antics.

And there are male antics aplenty, performed wonderfully by a stellar cast. In addition to Mr. Rudd, Mr. Segel, Mr. Simmons, Mr. Samberg and Mr. Ferrigno, there are guest appearances by Jon Favreau and a brief glimpse of Broken Lizard honcho Jay Chandrasekhar. Prog-rock supergroup Rush even gets into the act, providing a male bonding touchstone for Peter and Sydney.

Although a bit repetitive, “I Love You, Man” entertains throughout its 105 minutes and shows that there’s life left yet in the R-rated comedy.

★★★

TITLE: “I Love You, Man”

RATING: R (pervasive language, including crude and sexual references)

CREDITS: Directed and written by John Hamburg

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

WEB SITE: www.iloveyouman.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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