According to the Urban Dictionary, a “bromance” denotes a non-sexual relationship between two men and “bromancing” is the act of wooing a fellow male friend for the purpose of becoming closer. The term was originally coined by author/editor Dave Carnie in “Big Brother Magazine,” and it’s the theme of this banal bromantic comedy.
Here’s the set-up: when Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a mild-mannered, rather dorky real estate broker, proposes to his girl-friend, Zooey (Rashida Jones), she immediately speed-dials, conferencing her best friends about the wedding. But Peter has no male pal to stand up for him as Best Man. Panicked when he realizes Zooey may not trust a groom without friends, Peter immediately embarks on a mission to audition prospective buddies, enduring drinking bouts, poker nights and man-dates arranged by his parents (Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons) and gay younger brother (Andy Samberg). Eventually, for better or worse, he settles on scruffy Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), an aggressive ‘investor’ whom he meets at an open house for his biggest client, former “Hulk” Lou Ferrigno (as himself).
This meathead Sydney has a mangy mutt named Anwar Sadat whose poop he deliberately leaves littering the sidewalk because he enjoys the inevitable inconvenience it causes. Soon, the guffawing guys are gobbling fish tacos, just “chillaxing,” sequestered in Sydney’s grungy garage-turned-“man-cave” on Venice beach, squeezing Zooey, literally, out of the picture and placing the upcoming wedding in jeopardy.
While writer/director John Hamburg (“Meet the Fockers”) and co-writer Larry Levin leave no profanity unspoken and some uttered far too many times, his view of women is curiously gentler than that of, say, Judd Apatow, whose raunchy comedies (“40 Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up”) are known for their risqué content. But there’s no chemistry between Rudd and Jones, placing the Rudd/Segal bromance on the front burner, along with jokes about masturbation, flatulence and oral sex. And the outcome is utterly predictable. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “I Love You, Man” is a gross-out 6, aimed at dudes who dig crude slapstick along with sporadic, if superficial shock value.