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I LOVE YOU, MAN

"I Love You, Man" Origins
"I guess I don't have any close male friends. . . I'm very happy. It's not like this is something I've been missing. . .” –Peter Klaven

Romantic comedies often share the same basic construct: boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. John Hamburg's "I Love You, Man” turns that classic approach on its head – it's a "bromantic” comedy that takes a look at friendship between two guys – in this case, two men who are complete opposites.

After proposing to his girlfriend, Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones), Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a successful young L.A. real estate agent, realizes that, unlike his fiancée, who immediately calls her closest friends to share the news, he has no close buds – in fact, he has no male friends at all. After years of being a "girlfriend guy” focused on romantic relationships, Peter learns that his lack of male friendship worries Zooey, so he embarks on a hurried quest to make a male friend who can serve as Best Man at his wedding. Under the guidance of his brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg), a personal trainer who is gay and seems to know a thing or two about guys, Peter embarks on a series of disastrous "mandates” and, quite by accident, crosses paths with Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a charismatic bachelor who cruises open-houses for free food and lonely divorcées. Peter is intrigued with Sydney, and the two men embark on a friendship that teaches Peter something he's never experienced, the true meaning of male bonding, but also threatens his relationship with Zooey, forcing him to make some difficult choices.

"I Love You, Man” began its life as a pitch by Larry Levin ("Dr. Dolittle”) entitled "Let's Make Friends,” which grabbed the immediate attention of producer Donald De Line. "It had a basic, classic romantic comedy structure, but with a twist – it was about how a man in his 30s finds a new best friend. There hadn't been a movie about male friendship or a comedy that explored men's problems with intimacy. So I said ‘Done.'”

The project soon came to the attention of John Hamburg ("Meet the Parents,” "Along Came Polly”), who was busy juggling numerous projects, both as writer and director. "Every so often, we would talk on the phone, and John would say, ‘What's going on with ‘Let's Make Friends?' I'd say, ‘It's here – c'mon, jump in,' and then he'd go off and do something else,” De Line recalls.

But the producer continued his quest to bring Hamburg aboard, knowing he was perfectly suited for the project. "John's a brilliant comedy writer and director. Everything he writes is imbued with a certain intelligence and sophistication. He knows how to make movies that translate on a level that appeals to everyone and he's always able to tap into something we can all relate to.”

Executive producer Andrew Haas concurs. "'I Love You, Man' was the perfect match for John's sensibilities because he has such a firm understanding of the human experience. He knows how people relate to each other, but he's also an incredibly funny guy, so he's always able to infuse a sense of realistic humor into his work.”

De Line was confident that once Hamburg committed he'd be able to marry his organic, naturalistic style of comedy with a knack for fashioning audience-friendly characters. "What John brings to this project is character detail and an emotional truth that's at the core of everything he's done, no matter how absurd or ‘out there' the premise may at first appear. With John, you comfortably slip into the main character's shoes and recognize feelings and situations that you yourself may have experienced. That kind of approach to comedy is what sets John apart.”

So, more than five years after first reading "Let's Make Friends,” Hamburg found himself thinking again about the premise laid out in that script, and soon came up with his

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