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The Endurance of the Bromance in 2019

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At the end of the 2007 teen comedy Superbad, drunk teenagers Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) lie in a sleeping bag on the floor after a night of mischief and debauchery and say “I love you” to each other for the first time. From the way they say it, you can tell they’ve never said it out loud before. They repeat it over and over, as the words feel strange on their tongues. At that moment, Seth and Evan have finally been released from the societal confines that have been holding them back from admitting the importance of their friendship. “Why don’t we say that every day?” Evan asks.

At the time of its release, Superbad seemed like the comeback of vulnerable male friendships portrayed on the screen, a trend that had been explored in the 20th century with films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Blues Brothers (1980), and the Rocky sequels. But Superbad was, in a sense, a total game-changer. Its takeaway was that, as a guy, it’s okay to really love your best friend, even in Seth and Evan’s thankless high school world that told them that the most important thing about being a man is not letting your feelings be known.

Two years later, I Love You, Man came out, and it was almost as if we were becoming reacquainted with Seth and Evan 10 years later. But even in that adult world, the close male friendship is kind of… foreign. At the beginning of the film, Peter (Paul Rudd) admits that he’s never really had a male friend before, and when he finds one in Sydney (Jason Segel), it’s the missing link in his otherwise perfect life.

But that kind of friendship is not something the people in Peter’s universe are used to. Amidst gay jokes and the inability for Peter’s family to wrap their heads around what has suddenly afflicted him, Peter’s fiancée Zooey (Rashida Jones) nearly calls off their wedding, in part because this new relationship is so difficult for her to contend with. But when, at the end of the film, Peter finally admits to Sydney, “I love you, man,” all is restored in the world, the wedding proceeds with flying colors, and the barrier of strangeness has finally been broken. The answer was simple in this new comedic genre, and that was a beautiful........

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