January 19, 2014

Drinking Buddies

Joe Swanberg, 2013
It's quite obvious that Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) have a crush on each other. They both spend a good portion of their days working at the Revolution Brewery in Chicago goofing around. The only problem that they face is that they are both already involved with someone else.

When you're pitched a film that's going to be 100% improvised, that probably sounds quite appealing and fun, especially when it involves actual drinking. But this is essentially a film packing empty calories much like the stouts and pale ales they are constantly consuming on the job. The Brewery seems like the best place in the world to work. You can drink during your shift, smoke in your office. It appears that the only real work you must do is hose off some kegs and make some phone calls to distributors. The only real boss you must answer to is Gene (Jason Sudeikis) who is hard to respect when he is sitting next to you at the bar every night drinking. Everything that transpires is quite predictable, and you can get a clear feeling for the direction it's going to take at the 20 minute mark. And while Luke and Kate are pulling pigtails, they aren't providing a whole lot of funny. The sexual tension drags on. And on. And on. It's disappointing because Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick have proven that they are capable of pulling off good performances but they aren't given much to work with here. And perhaps it's not fair to judge them so harshly, they are clearly just not great with improv. It's an hour of power of pleasure delaying, loosey-goosey to a fault, and simply lacking. Swanberg deserves some credit for taking a risk, but Drinking Buddies is better on paper. It provides you with a lot to look at, but not enough substance behind it.

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