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Jason Segel: I Love You, Man

Jenn Metz | Monday, March 23, 2009

Roughly 40 minutes into “I Love You, Man,” Jason Segel makes a magnificent entrance onto the screen, wearing a plaid shirt, pink striped sweater and tweed blazer.

The actor who got his start on the too short-lived “Freaks and Geeks” has finally reached deserved status in Hollywood as leading man material, while redefining that role in his comedic films: playing a guy’s guy on the prowl for cougars who just doesn’t know when to move on in “I Love You, Man” and a broken-hearted, oft-naked puppet enthusiast in 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

Segel has come a long way after his turn as shorts-wearing drummer Nick Andopolis on Judd Apatow’s NBC comedy a decade ago.

Previously shafted with big screen supporting roles – such as one of fellow Apatow protégé Seth Rogen’s friends in “Knocked Up” – Segel’s starring role on the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM) and screenwriting have helped push him into the spotlight.

With the uncanny ability to make an audience cringe for hours, Segel’s turn as Sydney Fyfe in John Hamburg’s bromantic comedy (that’s a word now) continues the trend of redefining traditional masculinity that began with Peter Bretter in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” a character he wrote for himself.

Full of wonderful bro moments on man dates and in the “Man Cave,” “I Love You, Man” features Segel – a hero of male humiliation comedy – rocking out to Rush with co-star Paul Rudd’s bro-deprived Peter Klaven and displaying the ultimate dude confidence, walking his very small dog in calf-flattering Muggs and sporting various man scarves and cardigans.

Rudd is no stranger to the bromance himself. Fans may remember his taking a memorable trip to Las Vegas with Rogen in “Knocked Up.” Then again, neither is Segel, whose man club with Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor on HIMYM has helped the show’s ratings skyrocket.

Segel’s Marshall Erikson’s rants – like the one about being too big for New York and loving New Jersey in a Price Co. surrounded by T-shirts of dogs – are absolutely priceless and his stellar performance week after week makes this writer hope we never find out who the mother is.

His photo in the opening credits captures the ultimate dude moment: leaning back in your chair, smirking at the camera and holding a beer.

In a 2008 interview with The New York Times, Segel said he has drawn a lot of material for his writing from his own life, after listening to advice from Apatow to pick up the pen.

Segel said Apatow told him: “You’re kind of a weird dude. The only way you’re going to make it is if you start writing your own material.”

Weird, yes. Dude, definitely.

For his utter willingness to bear it all literally and figuratively on-screen and in-print (spoiler alert?) and his comfortableness with the role he’s cast himself in, Segel, I love you, man. ep writing.