It's been a steady rise to the top for Paul Rudd, from the teen heart-throbbery of 'Clueless' to Lisa Kudrow's arm candy in 'Friends', from thankless sidekick roles for Judd Apatow to his starring turn in last year's 'Role Models'. And on the strength of his performance in 'I Love You, Man', it couldn't happen to a more deserving chap: as Peter Klaven, the friendless ladies' man on the lookout for a suitable best man for his upcoming nuptials, Rudd displays a rare comic sophistication and matinée charm.
The rest of the film doesn't really measure up. The concept is solid, applying rusty romcom clichés to a tale of new-found masculine buddydom. But the plot is scatty, at least until Sydney - Jason Segel's alpha male - arrives to shake Peter out of his premarital complacency.
But a film like 'I Love You, Man' stands or falls on the strength of its characters. From a dog who bears a bizarre resemblance to former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to scene-stealing appearances from the likes of JK Simmons and Jon Favreau, writer-director John Hamburg and his co-author Larry Levin cram the film with the kind of memorable, absurd cameos which betray Levin's former employment as a 'Seinfeld' writer. In less sure hands this parade of oddities could have become tiresome. Which only makes Rudd's central performance more impressive, holding the entire edifice together by sheer force of personality. Tom Huddleston