True bromance

Paul Rudd and Jason Segel get chummy in the new comedy “I Love You, Man”

The bros bro-ing out to Rush. PHOTO COURTESY DREAMWORKS

Ashley Goetz

The bros bro-ing out to Rush. PHOTO COURTESY DREAMWORKS

âÄúI Love You, ManâÄù Directed by: John Hamburg Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Andy Samberg Rated: R Showing at: Area theaters In recent years, legions of American filmgoers have become increasingly familiar and enamored with the concept of the âÄúbromance,âÄù the intimate, oftentimes misconstrued relationship between two straight men. The portmanteau has found prominence in the last couple of months as a result of the thankfully defunct MTV series of the same name, and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have long upheld its virtue. But it seems that the bromanceâÄôs real popularity comes from an increasing open-mindedness among todayâÄôs men toward deep emotional relationships. Such is the backdrop for the new, loosely-Apatowic, âÄúThe State âÄù-instilled bromantic comedy âÄúI Love You, Man.âÄù ItâÄôs a fairly straightforward premise: A hapless but lovable realtor named Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) gets engaged, only to realize that he has no male friends close enough to fill the role of best man. Thus, Peter embarks on a series of awkward man-dates in an effort to quell the fears of his new fiancéeâÄôs concerned gal pals. While the plot is somewhat basic, the script is exceptional and manages an even balance of heartwarming plot points and expertly exploited gags. This is due in part to the work of writer-director John Hamburg , a relatively unknown member of the Apatow/post-âÄúStateâÄù clique, who clearly has a love for his characters. But it is also a result of some phenomenal acting by the ensemble cast. Any movie that boasts Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and Andy Samberg is sure to be hilarious, but all of the actors manage to imbue their characters with a warm humanity that makes them easily relatable and immediately engaging. Rudd is as loveable as ever as the tongue-tied husband-to-be and gives a performance that is all too real. In his efforts to connect with other guys, he provides the same terrific clumsiness of Steve Carell a la âÄúThe 40-Year-Old VirginâÄù but manages to avoid his friendsâÄô chill-evoking discomfiture. Additionally, Rudd plays the loving husband role to a tee, causing everyone in the audience to wish they were Julie Yaeger (his real-life wife). Jason Segel, as always, balances his characterâÄôs flagrant quirks with genuinely endearing qualities. He plays Sydney Fife , an investor with copious amounts of free time and a refreshing honesty that overrides his occasional bouts of insanity to eventually become the Robin to PeterâÄôs Batman. Other notable performances include those of Rashida Jones , another longtime Apatow /post-âÄúStateâÄù conspirator, and Andy Samberg. Jones plays RuddâÄôs doting fiancée and manages amiability in the face of pre-marriage jitters. Samberg, on the other hand, is delightfully understated in a supporting role as RuddâÄôs mentoring gay brother. SambergâÄôs low-key presentation shows that he can be just as funny when playing a well-rounded, human character as he can be while, say, hosting the Space Olympics or riding on a boat. âÄúI Love You, ManâÄù makes for another remarkable addition to the contemporary comedic pantheon. While Apatow had no direct responsibility in this project, his protégés have carried on his legacy and the handful of âÄúStateâÄù affiliates present have skillfully supplemented the splendor of these films. Keep being prolific, you crazy kids.