I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man is a buddy flick worked out as a chick flick, complete with makeovers, bonding montages, a break-up and make-up.

I Love You, Man

Director: John Hamburg
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg, Jane Curtain
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Paramount
First date: 2009
UK Release Date: 2009-04-17 (General release)
US Release Date: 2009-03-20 (General release)

When I Love You, Man was first pitched to him more than five years ago, producer Donald DeLine says, “There hadn’t been a movie about male friendship or a comedy that explored men’s problems with intimacy.” That was then. Now, the term “bromance” is in common us, the objective of a reality TV show and the foundation of Judd Apatow's career. In other words, I Love You, Man is now late to the party.

That doesn't mean it doesn't try hard. Peter (Paul Rudd) is newly engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones). While she speed-dials her girlfriends to share the good news, Peter has no one to call, since he has always been a “girlfriend guy," devoting his life to his girlfriend (read: whipped). As he's delivering a tray of lattes to Zooey and friends, he overhears their warning to her that a guy without friends will become clingy. This convinces Peter to go out and find himself a best man. After a series of nightmarish man-dates, Peter stumbles across Sydney (Jason Segal) and the two instantly connect. As the bromance bourgeons, Peter’s relationship with Zooey suffers. She issues a predictable ultimatum, forcing Peter to choose between her and Sydney.

I Love You, Man is essentially a buddy flick worked out as a chick flick, complete with makeovers, bonding montages, a break-up and make-up. Instead of the guys engaging in raunchy sex talk, Zooey’s friends do (though significantly not Zooey herself, a model of propriety), while Peter and Sydney are the ones debating issues of honesty, communication, and intimacy. In another play on types, Peter’s gay brother Robbie (Andy Samberg), who serves as Peter’s man-dating guru, seems straight, while Peter is mistaken several times as being gay, meaning that he's “one of the girls” at the office, gushing about how The Devil Wears Prada is to die for and considers his mother his best friend.

At a structural level I Love You, Man seeks to upend the marriage comedy formula by focusing on Peter and Sydney as the central couple. This isn’t new, but unlike, say, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents, the men aren't engaged in a pissing match over a woman. The problem for straight-laced Peter, aside from Zooey's temporary jealousy, is Sydney's unruliness -- he's fond of one-night stands, retreats regularly to his "man cave,” and doesn't scoop his dog’s poop. We do wonder briefly if perhaps Sydney is up to no good in his friendship with Peter, but really, he's just lonely. Though he criticizes Peter for conforming to social expectations, Sydney is just as enslaved by rules of his own making.

The problems for Peter and Zooey are similarly easy to diagnose, and mostly irrelevant. When she complains about being ignored, we barely care, because she is utterly peripheral, but it’s essential to the formula that Peter be forced to choose. The breakup that matters is Peter and Sydney’s, even though we know their reunion can only happen as a result of Peter and Zooey’s. In order to keep this story straight, Peter can’t choose Sydney over Zooey. What's less clear is why Peter sees these relationships as mutually exclusive. Unable to suggest, much less insist, that he maintain his friendship with Sydney while also being with Zooey, he is in the end turned childlike, his newly supportive, even maternal, bride to be finally seeing that particular light.






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.