For Hollywood, friendship is the new romance – for women anyway, who flocked on ‘mate dates’ to friend-fests like Mamma Mia! and Sex And The City.
Now John Hamburg’s smart, slyly hilarious and amiably chat-packed ‘bro-mance’ puts the pitfalls of male friendship under the microscope, as Paul Rudd’s gentle estate agent Peter Klaven has to hunt up a best man, after fiancée Zooey is horrified by his friendless status.
Hamburg, who’s got form as a revenger of the nerds (he scripted Meet The Parents and Meet The Fockers), cues up a string of slick, sharply observed man dates, in which Klaven nimbly dodges needy soccer-nuts, closeted gays and lonely OAPs, before a chance meeting with witty slacker Sydney (Jason Segel) bears fruit. But can he get him to the altar?
From its tongue-in-cheek title to its zinging dialogue scenes, this obviously ain’t laddish Farrelly-style farce, but a deft, rather charming comedy of awkward moments. Peter’s gaffes (projectile vomiting in a beer chug, unwarily copping a gay kiss) may be the film’s chortle triggers, but don’t come looking for Forgetting Sarah Marshall snickering. Hamburg is working in a warmer, more affectionate register than guy movies have used lately, so while there’s dirty talk aplenty, the movie has more yucks than yuck factor.
What powers it along is an easy, emerging chemistry between the appealingly nerdy straight-arrow Peter and Segel’s Sydney, wreathed in dope, divorcees and good advice, as an engaging Big Lebowski-lite.
Yes, like Hamburg’s Along Came Polly, it’s another odd couple movie – or counting Rashida Jones’ increasingly sidelined love interest, an odd triangle. And yes, like Along Came Polly, its hot cameos (Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau as enraged fuck-and-fight young marrieds) camouflage some predictable plotting. But if Wes Anderson is planning that US remake of My Best Friend, he should screech to a halt. I Love You, Man has probably got the homme-com covered.
There’s continuous chuckles rather than a barrel of belly-laughs in this warm winner. A sweet, slightly shambling buddy-movie that will please those who prefer gags to gagging.