Quick Movie Review: Drinking Buddies (2013)

drinking buddies poster In a lot of ways, flipping through Netflix’s Instant offerings reminds me of my days wandering through my local Family Video and checking out all kinds of movies based on very little information. I usually went by cover or familiar cast, maybe reading the description on the back and just giving all kinds of movies a shot. It’s basically the same thing with Netflix with a lot more landmines thrown in the mix.

When I saw the poster for Drinking Buddies, though, I was pretty sure it was something I’d like. Just look at that cast! Office Space‘s Ron Livingston! New Girl and Safety Not Guaranteed star Jake Johnson! Pitch Perfect‘s Anna Kendrick! And Olivia Wilde whose work I’m not really familiar with. I also didn’t know much about writer/director Joe Swanberg who took a very improvisational approach to this film, often just letting his actors go with a few story details and seeing what happened. Swanberg’s a big deal in the small budget subgenre called mumblecore which usually focus on super personal stories for the characters.

In the case of drinking buddies, Wilde and Johnson play co-workers at a brewery who are also good friends. They’re each in a relationship, Wilde with Livingston and Johnson with Kendrick, but a trip to a cabin soon breaks up the norm for them. I won’t get into spoilers — by the way, skip the IMDb trivia page for the film before viewing because it’s super spoilery in the main section — but the film essentially finds these two characters examining their relationships with one another and their partners.

As I mentioned above, I wasn’t very familiar with Wilde going into this movie, but I found myself really enjoying her character and performance. Of the group, I think she’s got one of the more complicated characters to play and she pulls it off. She’s really great at her job (which seems to be in PR or something along those lines), but doesn’t really have much of her life aside from that in order. Her relationship with Livingston feels like a placeholder even if she doesn’t want to admit it. And when you see her in her apartment, it opens up a whole house full of windows into who she is (the birthday cake thing made me cringe).

Overall I liked this film. The chemistry between the characters is spot on. You get why each person is friends with/connected to/in a relationship with the others and it all feels fresh. I don’t know how big a fan I am of the super realistic way the characters talk though. It might feel more real — people stutter, repeat words and get lost in thought all the time in real life — but that can be distracting in a piece of fiction. But if this improvisation format allowed the actors to better tap into the emotion of their characters, I can handle lots of “likes” and “ums.” The movie also doesn’t have a traditional arc when you think about it. At the end of it, you’re not really sure what’s up with any of the characters. Truths are told, but we have no real idea what ramifications the events of the film have. This also didn’t bother me too much, but I can see it being a sticking point for some. I think if you’re a fan of the actors — Jason Sudeikis is also in a few scenes — and are even remotely familiar with this style of indie filmmaking, I think you’ll dig it too.

Showing My "O" Face

2008-07-30
1:27:35 am

So, the wife had to work on Saturday. Bummer for her, good for my movie watching. I got to flipping through my DVD binder (hey, gotta conserve space, right?) and I got to the O’s. We were flipping through channels the night before and caught the beginning of Old School, the part where Luke Wilson comes home early and his wife has some people over for a little group sex (can I say that?). The way they edited it to cut out all the boobs was pretty funny. So, that made me want to watch it again. After that I still had a little time so I popped on Office Space.

Back in college I watched Old School a lot. I was actually in a fraternity at the time called Alpha Sigma Phi. Before you start making rash judgments (hey, I made the same ones before I met these guys) this isn’t the kind of fraternity you see on TV in movies (like Old School) or hear about on the news. Anyway, a large group of us went to see Old School when it came out and it quickly worked its way into my life. I had actually forgotten how many of the little things I say come from this flick. (“Good talk, see you out there” “earmuffs” just to name two.)

The other thing that surprised me about Old School is how many guys in it have kind of blown up. The dude who plays Spanish is on Reaper and one of the dudes is on Big Bang Theory (a great show if you haven’t seen it). There’s more, but I’ve forgotten them. It’s been a few days.

I’ve seen most (maybe all) of the Frat Pack movies since this one and I’ve got to say, only Wedding Crashers comes close to Old School. There’s just something about the combination of Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn that lights up the screen with comedy fireworks. Add in director Todd Phillips and you’ve got comedy gold. I’m hoping the oft-rumored sequel goes through.

When it came out, the comedy landscape wasn’t looking too good. We’d weathered the storm of bad teen comedies, bad spoof flicks and studio-churned lameo comedy and Old School was our gift. I’d like to think it paved the way for Judd Apatow and his crew as well, which is awesome cause I can’t freaking wait for Pineapple Express to come out.

So, like I said, after I peeped Old School I moved on to Office Space which is great for anyone whose ever had a job. You can’t watch it without being reminded of SOMEONE you work with. Yeah, you know it’s true, unless you’re the person yourself. Anyway, it’s nice to watch someone break out of the corporate mold and have some fun even if it involves crime. It’s like a funny Wanted (the comic) without all the unnecessary violence and sexual assault.

Office Space is another one of those movies with a slew of catch phrases and tag lines. The first time I saw it I actually came in 15 minutes late and just though he decided to not go to work (instead of the hypnosis thing from the guy who used to be on Whose Line is It Anyway). It was still good even missing the beginning. Oh, I also liked Jen Aniston, even though she’s basically playing the same part she’s been playing since Leprechaun (and on into Friends). And finally, Diedrich Bader, who I just interviewed for ToyFare #135 (he’s the voice of Batman in the upcoming Brave and the Bold, which looks rad) rocks the house as Lawrence the neighbor who’d do two chicks if he was given a million bucks. Go Lawrence.

Well, I think that about wraps up my ramblings on the subjects. Thanks for paying attention.