Drinking Buddies (R) - Runtime: 90 minutes
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston
Director: Joe Swanberg
Writer: Joe Swanberg
People think I drink a lot. They also think I drink a lot of beer. I have no idea where this notion came from, maybe it was because I was in a fraternity in college or maybe it's because I'm from a small, rural town in Ohio and there's nothing else to do but get drunk. Whatever, I just don't really enjoy alcohol that much. But I tell you what - I love movies whose main focus is beer or alcohol - Beerfest is amazing, Superbad is great and Young Einstein was completely underrated in my opinion. So here comes a movie that pretty much sums up the story in its title: Drinking Buddies. If you are not a fan of "talkie" movies that focus on characters with little to no action, then you should probably avoid this one. Otherwise, this is a fantastic comedy/drama about an awkward friendship and will they/won't they suspension.
Olivia Wilde plays Kate, a manager at a local brewing company who feels a strong connection with her friend, Luke (played by the always delightful Jake Johnson - you might know him as the curmudgeon on Fox's The New Girl). But they are in separate, somewhat shaky relationships that inevitably gets tested when the two couples spend a weekend at the lake together. The movie is mainly from Kate's perspective - she wants to be with Luke and thinks that he feels the same way, but it's...complicated.
And that's why the movie is really good - it's a pretty honest and genuine portrayal of unrequited love. The characters are well-written - there's a deep well of resentment underlying Kate's character and Luke seems on the surface to be unaware of the attraction but all of their feelings get laid out in the open when he helps her to move out of her apartment. I really dug the ending - it doesn't seem to force itself into romantic comedy cliche or try to be some pretentious look at modern love. It's just...is and the movie seems like we're checking in on these character's lives in the moment.
And the acting is phenomenal. Olivia Wilde isn't just a pretty face - she can really act and she carries this movie. When she breaks down after her bike gets stolen, it's heartbreaking and she makes you feel that emotion - she's that good! The supporting cast is good as well - the aforementioned Jake Johnson is awesome and Anna Kendrick does a good job at playing the out-of-her-sorts girlfriend and Ron Livingston plays a sad sack who just seems to have bad luck with women - you really feel bad for the dude.
There's also this great underlying theme of drinking and camaraderie (duh). You could delve a little deeper into the meaning of these happy hour meet-ups and hook-ups and what they say about our relationships, romantic or not. Is it genuine friendship or is the attraction out of this desire to not be alone? Is it the beer feeling the emotions? Am I drunk right now? I don't know, maybe I'm reading a bit too deeply into this character-focused movie, but that's how good this movie is!
I will SPOIL a little bit of the ending here - if you're not a fan of ambiguous endings, then stay away from Drinking Buddies! The movie will not make up your mind for you as to whether these characters finally get together. And I love the movie for that - like I said earlier, the movie doesn't become a terrible cliched romance story but it leaves it up to you as to where you think these two buddies will end up. End of SPOILERS!
Drinking Buddies is a funny and sincere look at a relationship that seems inevitable - the tension is great as to whether they'll hook up or not. Plus these characters are just fun to hang out with for an hour and a half. It's an emotional movie too and I highly recommend checking this one out! It's available On Demand right now and totally worth it!
Rating: See It!