Resembling nothing so much as an unholy mindmeld between Judd Apatow and the New York Times’ Jennifer 8. Lee, I Love You, Man would be a disappointment but for the low standards that mainstream Hollywood comedy has beaten into us. Last year may well have signaled the decline and fall of the twin tendencies of recent multiplex humor, the lowbrow and the bromantic, as each new entry—Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Step Brothers, and, good god, Zack and Miri Make a Porno—dumped a shovelful dirt on the genre’s grave. I Love You, Man plays like a zombie iteration of a faded trend, recycling bits, gags, actors, music, and subtexts from previous movies and not even pretending to aim higher.
Neither Apatow nor Lee actually had anything to do with the movie (not that Lee hasn’t noticed her influence on it), but that they might as well have suggests I Love You, Man’s cynicism. John Hamburg (Along Came Polly) doesn’t so much direct as line up comforting signifiers for a demographic conditioned to laugh at bro jokes, groove to good-times montages, and nod along to a dutifully cued Vampire Weekend song. All the tropes of the Apatow male weepie are here: a sensitive dude, his slovenly (but, deep down, also sensitive) buddy, the celebration of the inner caveman and the disruption of the placid life, all paving the way for the ultimate affirmation of Growing Up and Settling Down. The movie’s stabs at currency, impersonal and lame, are right out of the New York Times Style section: complacency about affluence, Bushnellian blue talk, inoffensive indie rock, and contrived social mores and faux trends (“man-date” anyone?).
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