THERE ARE THREE pubic hair jokes within the first five minutes of I Love You, Man. There is also a conversation about oral sex and a reference to a masturbation saddle for women, the name of which I just spent a fruitless 20 minutes looking up on the internet. (Note: Not recommended. Clear browser history.) It seems strange to describe such a vulgar, expletive-dense comedy as "inoffensive," but then, it's impossible to imagine a more harmless flick than I Love You, Man, an affable new comedy about love, friendship, and Lou Ferrigno.
Real estate agent Peter (Paul Rudd) has always been a "girlfriend guy," and his fiancée Zooey (The Office's smokin' hot Rashida Jones) is concerned that unless he finds some friends of his own, he'll make for a needy, clingy husband—plus, they need a best man at the wedding. Dutifully, Peter enlists the help of his gay brother Robbie (Andy Samburg, whose performance here can best be described as awesome), and sets out to find The One.
Peter goes on a series of bad friend-dates, which manage to be funny while avoiding any trace of condescension or homophobia (Chuck and Larry this is not). Eventually, he finds his soul mate in Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a puggle-owning, scooter-riding beach bum who's converted his garage into a no-girls-allowed clubhouse, complete with a lotion-stocked masturbation station. The two meet when Peter hosts an open house at Lou Ferrigno's house, which he's trying to sell; Sydney shows up prowling for free food and divorcées, and the two become fast friends.
As Sydney coaches Peter in the ways of male friendship, tensions develop on the homefront—but even this movie's tension isn't terribly stressful. This is thanks in large part to Rudd, who has been funnier than he is here, but never more likeable. Peter is overeager and goofy, prone to bursting out with dorky catchphrases ("Totes magotes!") then lapsing into appealing bemusement at his own silliness. It's easy to see why Zooey likes him so much, and it's refreshing to see a relationship depicted so realistically (the devastating hotness of both Rudd and Jones notwithstanding).
In that regard, I Love You, Man is very much a post-Judd Apatow comedy: It can't compete with Knocked Up or The 40-Year-Old Virgin on a laughs-per-scene basis, but its characters are similarly complex. (When Zooey gets angry with Peter for telling Sydney details about their sex life, Peter reminds her that every girls' night ever consists of just such dishing—for a romcom, it's an unexpectedly measured conversation.)
Sure, there are valid criticisms—in the early stages of Peter and Sydney's bro bonding, there were about 10 minutes where I was convinced the film was going to turn into some sort of New Warriors/unleashing-your-inner-caveman bullshit. But the embarrassing "barbaric yawp" scene was merely one of several moments where the movie hinted at the tacky, cheesy direction it could have taken—and then quickly righted itself, proceeding on course as an affable, goodhearted film that's impossible not to like.