MOVIE REVIEW | Drinking Buddies (2013)


What kind of movie is Drinking Buddies?  I just finished watching it and I really don’t know the answer to that.  It’s not that Drinking Buddies is complicated and I don’t understand it.  It’s so not complicated that even calling it simple seems like an understatement.  It’s got laughs, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy.  It’s got a couple of emotional eruptions, but I wouldn’t call it a drama.  It’s all hand held camera work, semi improvised dialogue and rough lighting, but I wouldn’t call it indie.  Maybe if I get into the plot synopsis, a better genre classification will come to me.

Jake Johnson from TV series New Girl plays Luke, a dude in his thirties with a mid-arm tattoo, bushy beard and penchant for trucker’s hats, who works in a Chicago micro brewery .  But he’s not a hipster.  The movie makes this very clear by having his girlfriend Jill, (Anna Kendrick) literally say that.  Also working at the brewery is Olivia Wilde’s Kate.  She’s the perfect woman as invented by a male screenwriter.  She’s super hot, but really down to earth, loves that she works at a brewery and loves going out for beers with the guys even more.  She’s not the perfect girl for just anyone, she’s the perfect girl for Jake Johnson’s character.  But as you might remember from two or three sentences ago, he has a missus in the form of Anna Kendrick.

Right about now, I bet you think you know how this movie plays out.  Well I think you should maybe slow your roll.  Because I’m quietly confident you have no idea how Drinking Buddies plays out.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no huge twist, revelation or any kind of story telling revelation that will change the face of cinema forever.  It’s just a peculiar little movie that will surprise you in a few peculiar little ways.

The title, trailer, publicity photos and almost everything about Drinking Buddies point toward a romantic comedy.  You know, the kind of romantic comedy that tries to hide it’s clichés and redundancy by setting its story in some current fad, like, oh I don’t know, a micro brewery?  But this movie doesn’t go for that low hanging fruit either.

Writer / Director Joe Swanberg is one of the pioneers of the whole “Mumblecore” movement.  Whether “Mumblecore” actually exists or is just an annoying buzz word movie execs used a decade ago to sound like they were on top of the latest trends, anything associated with it seems to come with a certain aesthetic.   An aesthetic I just kind of find underwhelming.

The characters are believable and unremarkable in a very true to reality way.   The story is believable and unremarkable in a very true to reality way.  The world it takes place in is believable and unremarkable in very a true to reality way.  And in the end, that all leads to a very and unremarkable in a very true to reality way movie.

Some of that may sound a little snarky or like I don’t like the movie, but that’s not the case.  I did like Drinking Buddies.  I think…  Mabye…  Yeah…  Actually, I’m not sure.  I don’t know if I’d say you need to see this movie, but if you told me you were thinking about it, I wouldn’t try to stop you.  Meh.

Drinking Buddies
Directed By – Joe Swanberg
Written By – Joe Swanberg

3 thoughts on “MOVIE REVIEW | Drinking Buddies (2013)

  1. great review. This movie is a very true to life depiction of a particular set of relationships, yes, and it has almost nothing to offer to lift it out of the ‘good’ category. Good screenwriting, Very Good acting, good camerawork, good directing. But it doesn’t reveal the truth of our humanity in a profound moment or expose questions that we feel compelled to answer once the story has come to a close.

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