Viewed: February 22, 2014
Overall Opinion: I think I’ve soured on mumblecore a little bit since I first discovered it a few years back, but I still like a lot of things about it. In a lot of ways, Drinking Buddies is typical mumblecore: improvised dialogue, little to no story, heavy emphasis on small character moments rather than big plot points. These days I like my movies with just a smidge more story going on, but I really appreciated a lot of things about this film despite its plotlessness. Drinking Buddies explores a few themes really, really well, in my opinion: infidelity and male-female friendship. It draws a really interesting comparison between two different types of cheating that you don’t usually see in movies, those being the impulsive non-sex-one-off vs the emotional affair / friendship-that-gets-kind-of-weird-sometimes. Like a lot of similar movies, what makes it interesting is its willingness to explore its characters and themes with a lot of depth. Along the way, there are plenty of viscerally awkward scenes and a couple of good laughs.
On a side note, this movie might just be the Sideways of beer to me, in that it made me want to go buy a bunch of awesome craft beers and drink them while watching.
In the end, liked it, didn’t love it.
What I Learned:
They took the typical bitchy, uptight girlfriend character that’s usually cold and joyless and made her a lot more interesting in Anna Kendrick’s character, Jill. She’s still boring and reserved when you compare her to Olivia Wilde’s character, Kate, but I appreciated how they made you like and respect her. A lot of comedies fall into the trap of the main character’s girlfriend/wife being so goddamn unbearable that you wonder why he doesn’t just dump her ass and move on. Here, you can genuinely see why he’d want to be with her, but also why he might be tempted by the other girl, Kate. Conversely, Kate is sexy and exciting but she’s also a trainwreck of a human being. Making the characters real and three dimensional really took what could have been a goofy circus of a film and turned it into an interesting study of relationships.
As for something that I didn’t like, I felt like a lot of important moments happened off-camera here. I’m always a little on the fence about this, because these are sometimes the scenes that have the potential to play out really melodramatic and cliche, but they’re also really important to the characters, so I feel like they should be in there more often than not. There’s a scene we never see about halfway through where Kate and her boyfriend break up. We also never see when Kate’s ex-boyfriend visits Jill to bring her a present, which I think would have been interesting to see. We’re left to piece together the characters’ thoughts and feelings through context clues in the scenes that follow, which is good and helps keep us engaged, but sometimes just watching something happen is more powerful. One of the best dramatic scenes I can remember seeing is when the main character from Like Crazy breaks up with his girlfriend, Jennifer Lawrence. There’s absolutely nothing special about it from a dramatic standpoint except how brilliantly and intimately it’s acted and filmed. It would have been a shame if that really simple but powerful scene had taken place off camera.