Director: Joe Swanberg
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick
I don’t believe it’s a secret to many of the people that know me. My favorite film genre is the comedy. Now, there are plenty types of comedies that exist. Some are meant to make audiences laugh out loud. Some are made to gross out audiences. Heck, some are even made to make people cry. Drinking Buddies is a much different comedy than most would come to expect… and it turns out this is a very good thing. It’s also a film about something many movies seem to shy away from, a true friendship. It steps away wonderfully from the typicality of a romantic comedy and manages to show this writer something thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing.
The title of the film gives the audience an apt description of the characters in the film. Luke, played quite delicately by Jake Johnson, is a good friend of Kate, played by Olivia Wilde. They share about as intimate of a relationship as one could imagine without being completely… you know… intimate. They work together in a local brewery, Luke involved with the actual brewing of the beer and Kate in charge of public relations.
The two are both involved in their own separate relationships as well. Kate has an exceedingly pretentious boyfriend, Chris, played by Ron Livingston, who seems quite obviously dissatisfied with what Kate has to offer. Luke appears to be in the better relationship with Anna Kendrick’s Jill, a sweet and studious girl who teaches in a special needs program.
One would come to expect certain things from a film with this type of set-up. I’m sure most audiences who watch this will expect this film to be about how these two friends end up getting together in the end because of how right they are for each other. This is the aspect of the film that is wonderfully executed, because, while romance is fun and all, this particular film isn’t necessarily interested in the idealism of a perfect romantic experience.
The experience watching Drinking Buddies was surprisingly authentic without taking a turn towards the pretentious path. It’s not a negative film. It’s not an overly positive film. It’s a very real experience that doesn’t take cheap shots at certain types of people (Ron Livingston’s character would be portrayed as an over-the top a**hole in most other films of this nature).
The performances by the actors in this film were very important towards creating the sort of natural feel to the story. The performances, especially from Johnson and Wilde, are understated and many of the supporting characters, all of which could have easily become all-familiar caricatures of typical comedic tropes, lend a hand in tenderly bringing out something different. Even Jason Sudeikis has this great turn as a boss who could have very much turned into an incessantly overplayed prick, but the film would not let him take that direction.
If this film would have been made as a silly, goofball comedy in the realm of Knocked Up or Wedding Crashers, it would have failed miserably. Fortunately this is a film that takes the time to show the audience characters who become real people and it takes the time to develop and test a friendship that seems worthy of the fight. It’s a film that has stuck in my mind for a while, which doesn’t happen too often nowadays. I’d welcome any movie to strive to be more like this film.
My Rating: 4 out of 5