The joys of male bonding are explored to the fullest. Peter (Rudd) is about to get married but, being more of a girls' guy, finds he has no suitably XY friends to fill the position of best man. Desperate to rectify the situation before the big day, Peter goes on a series of man dates to find himself a best friend. Enter Sydney (Jason Segel), an all-round guys' guy and the perfect candidate to put Peter in touch with his inner caveman.
Paul Rudd is comedy’s bridesmaid, but never the bride. After soldiering too often in middling comedy limbo as the best friend or the brother-in-law, it’s always good to see him play the lead, attractively and with expert timing. Fresh off Role Models he’s on a roll and where he should stay: top billed. Reunited with Forgetting Sarah Marshall writer-star Jason Segel, the duo make a very appealing team, Rudd unafraid to look cringe-makingly uncool, Segel laddishly brash and borderline oafish but irrepressibly likable.
Hamburg, who co-wrote Meet The Parents and Zoolander for Ben Stiller and wrote and directed Along Came Polly, is not quite the new Judd Apatow, as the hype suggests, but he knows what he’s doing and does it neatly; this moves along with cheery, seldom unkind or overly lewd hilarity.
Rudd’s open, trusting, considerate Peter gives estate agents a good name. He’s adored by all the women in the office but never in his life one of the guys, a difficulty demonstrated by an unfortunate evening when he’s press-ganged into an unfriendly poker game with a memorably toe-curling result. Egged on by his intended (Rashida Jones, a perky honey from the American version of The Office) and her galpals, he anxiously embarks on an excruciating series of set-up ‘man dates’ with losers, loners and, inevitably, in a rendezvous of crossed wires and mixed signals, the hopeful gay guy who thinks Pete is looking for love. Male get-togethers covering all the ground between yuck to yuk yuk are the story’s raison d’être: these range from Peter’s advice-dispensing father and brother (J. K. Simmons and SNL veteran Andy Samberg) to Hulk icon Lou Ferrigno (as himself, natch) to Segel’s hootsome Sydney Fife, a Rush devotee with a ‘man cave’ that is every adolescent male’s dream sanctuary. He’s so much the lad about town, in fact, you begin to worry why he doesn’t have more pals himself, a mystery that slyly sets up suspicion as to what he’s up to.
So all good fun, but our advice for Peter is beware of marrying a woman who tells her girlfriends everything. It’s cutely embarrassing at this stage of the game, but ten years down the line it’s going to be so not funny, dude!
An amusing scenario gets a big boost from winning performances all round which lift it well above other bride vs. buddy triangle japes like, say, You, Me And Dupree.