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A double dose of cutie-patooties – Paul Rudd goes gaga for a guy in “I Love You, Man,” and “17 Again” stars Zac Efron, who goes back to school – in the same week? Someone fan me; I’m sweating more than I do in my AC-less pad. Naked.
Rudd’s always charmed my pants off (something I wish I meant more literally) – from his Alicia Silverstone-lover/brother role on “Clueless” to that humdrum rom-com “Object of my Affection” with Jennifer Aniston, in which he played gay. Affection for the guy-next-door daddy only surged during a March ’09 Entertainment Weekly story (the cover greets me each morning in my office) during which Rudd admitted to thinking he’d make a good homo: “I love gay guys. I feel pretty gay.”
So I say, with overwhelming glee, that his first major movie stint, as a dweeb with no dude friends who needs to find a best man in time for his wedding, is better late than never. He’s so instantly likable – charming, flustered, flamboyant – in a howlingly hilarious, aww-provoking and more-metrosexual-than-Ryan-Seacrest’s-wardrobe flick.
It’s all a bit like my high school prom … with a chick … who was taller than me: Awkward. Which is exactly how bromantic comedy “I Love You, Man” scores so many of its big belly laughs: Because his above-embarrassing girly man – the hopelessly uncool Peter Klaven – fails at anything involving any machismo or smoothness, be it chugging booze or making a man-date call.
These man dates prove tricky – one ends in a surprise nighty-night kiss. And when Peter finally meets his match, played by Jason Segal, they’re an irresistible comedic duo in one of the funniest films of the year – and definitely one of the best about platonic man love ever. The DVD special features – especially the bloopers and Segal-Rudd commentary – are as lovable as Rudd.
Zac Efron, too, proves pretty adorable in “17 Again,” being all smiley and dapper and – rats! – not legal. Too bad his foray into non-musical movies didn’t arouse much out of me but a few grunts, chuckles and several woos when Efron showed us more than his average acting skills. Those sculpted abs have been through more of a workout than the been-there-done-there script of this mediocre do-over “comedy,” which suffers from deja vu. Call it a male-cast rehash of the Jennifer Garner vehicle “13 Going on 30,” because that’s almost what it is, except with less ha-has and charm. Matthew Perry plays the older Efron, before some magic water kicks him back into his teen years, during which he’s taught life lessons and learns more about the people around him and about love and blah blah blah.
Efron seems a little stuffy, and didn’t win me over quite as much as Garner did in her time-traveling relative of a farce (I’m not just saying that so Paul doesn’t get jealous). Thomas Lennon, as his hyper-nerdy pal with a needless and stupid principal-courting subplot, is mostly annoying (the “Reno 911” ‘mo gets around; he has an unrecognizable – and better – spot in “I Love You, Man”). My high school years sucked monkey balls (and I don’t care to ever be 17 again, by the way) – but at least daydreaming about getting the heck out of there was more entertaining than most of this. And the DVD extras? Zilch, unless you pick up the Blu-ray. And that’s not fair, but neither is watching a movie you’ve seen at least 17 times … again.
“I Love You, Man,” A-; “17 Again,” C-