Stuck in a socially tense situation, Rudd's character, Peter Klaven, relies on newly minted catchphrases that don't quite catch. "I'll see you there, or I'll see you on the ... other time," he says at one point. Later, he takes to calling his newfound man-date pal Sydney "totes magotes," a nickname with no known origin.
This Judd Apatow-free but decidedly Apatow-inspired vehicle isn't quite in the league of "Virgin," "Knocked Up," "Superbad" or Segel's starring vehicle, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Director Hamburg's sensibility is more mainline and commercially calculated; he co-wrote "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers," and directed another Ben Stiller humiliation outing, "Along Came Polly." In "I Love You, Man," when he's required to deliver a projectile-vomiting sight gag, he does so in a strictly routine way, nothing off-center or unexpected about it.
What works best is whatever's completely incidental to the story, such as the totes-magotes/slippy mcgippy jive talk. The script sets up Peter as a familial and social loner -- Andy Samberg plays his gay younger brother; their relative closeness is never defined -- yet on some level Rudd seems too much the lad (or nerd-lad) to be playing the fellow he's playing. At the same time he's the reason to see the film. Segel's casual, genial belligerence (he refuses to pick up after his dog and gets rageful when confronted) contrasts wittily with Rudd's depiction of a tightly wound fellow attempting to cut loose and discover the joys of the "man-date."
Now: If one of these movies can get around to writing a really interesting female lead, we'll be getting somewhere.