So I’ll admit I’m a sucker for this new genre of raunchy “bromantic comedies.” It will fizzle out soon, likely, but at the moment even the lesser ones are far more entertaining than most other comedies you’ll find at the multiplex right now (sappy chick flicks; the endless strain of Disaster Movie/Date Movie/Epic Movie drivel; and Tyler Perry movies!).
I Love You, Man is the logical, inevitable culmination of the recent “bromances”: this time the central relationship between the two “dudes” plays out exactly like the stereotypical boy/girl romantic comedies (they meet cute, they “fall” for each other, they “break up,” they reunite). It’s moderately clever and generally very well-performed. Paul Rudd has become the go-to guy for the endearingly goofy but square role (he’s essentially the same dude here and in Knocked Up and in Role Models, but it still works…what straight guy wouldn’t want to party with him at a Rush concert, very heterosexually). Jason Segel steps comfortably into the crude slacker role (often filled by Seth Rogen in these films). And the supporting cast is sharp, keeping things afloat even when the film overplays its running jokes.
But why are these movies so popular right now? Part of it is simple enough, I think: the combination of raunch and sweetness is capable of drawing in both a male and female audience. But I also think these films get at certain “realities” (about relationships, gender expectations, etc) that don’t really get explored in what has become the pure fantasy-land of chick-centered romantic comedies. I’m not sure where the genre is headed, but maybe it’s got a little life left in it yet, and apparently it’s starting to trickle out of the mainstream and into the indie-world, where it will get a little “edgier”: one of the Sundance hits this year is called Humpday and concerns two straight male friends who decide to make an “art project” in which they sleep with each other. I think it’s safe to say Humpday will not appeal to the fratty audience currently cracking up at I Love You, Man.