Is 'I Love You, Man' the end of bromance?
When writer-director John Hamburg first told me the idea behind "I Love You, Man," he pretty much had me at "bro." What isn't funny about a guy who's getting married but is so bereft of male friends that he has to start going out on "dates" with possible best man candidates? But what do women think of the "bromance" genre, a comedy concept celebrating the relationship between two straight guys that has become a staple in the world according to Judd Apatow and a host of other thirty- and fortysomething comedy filmmakers?
After all, if the genre has an Achilles heel, it would be that most of the movies, from "Wedding Crashers" to "Pineapple Express," don't exactly offer any wondrous comic parts for, ahem, the women involved. (We're obviously granting an exception to "Role Models," whose fearsomely funny Jane Lynch stole nearly ever scene she was in.) Not to knock "Pineapple Express," but how is it possible to put Rosie Perez in a film and not give her any laughs at all?
So, even before "I Love You, Man" hits theaters on Friday, I can't say I'm surprised that the female critical backlash to bromance has officially kicked off with this post by the U.K. Guardian's Rosamund Witcher (no snarky remarks about her family name, guys). Witcher chronicles the rise of bromance, officially launched by Kevin Smith's "Dogma" in 1999, which has Jason Mewes introducing Smith's Silent Bob as "my hetero life-mate." Being a fancy pants Brit-crit, she even includes the entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in the genre, along with the likes of "Super Bad" and the upcoming British soccer biopic, "The Damned United," which she describes as a love story between two rough-hewn soccer mates who repeatedly hug, kiss on the lips and say "I love you," even in 1970s Yorkshire (which I think roughly translates for us Yanks as 1970s Pittsburgh).
So what's wrong with "I Love You, Man" in Witcher's eyes? As she puts it: " 'I Love You, Man' has turned bromance from something funny and heartwarming into something pathetic and depressing. Rudd's Peter Klaven is sweet and handsome, but as he desperately looks for 'friends' online you wonder what his foxy fiance (Rashida Jones) is doing with such a loser." She says the film has its moments, but concludes by saying: "Surely, men will object to the portrayal of their gender as bumbling cretins. Female audiences will certainly find it hard to root for the deeply offensive Sydney (Jason Segel) who clearly hates women and has a 'masturbation station' in his garage. So, with its bizarre premise and unsympathetic characters, is 'I Love You, Man,' the end of bromance? And might that be a good thing?"
Guys, does she have a point or not? If you haven't seen it yet, here's the film's trailer, which sets up the story nicely:
Photo of Jason Segel, left, and Paul Rudd in "I Love You, Man" from Paramount Pictures