Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Better if Drunk
I recently reviewed a movie that had done everything possible wrong, but did one thing exactly right. That was Vehicle 19. I ended up giving that a bad score because one perfect thing doesn’t make up for the rest of the bad. Turns out it’s not the best vice versa. Drinking Buddies does a lot right, and I really mean a lot. Unfortunately, it does one thing very wrong, and the wrong thing is integral to any movie’s success…and that is plot. It’s been a while since I’ve actually witnessed such senseless and blind direction. But again, the rest was pretty good, so that’s got to count for something, right? Right?
This is a semi-ensemble cast film starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston as four friends that just…like to drink. Olivia Wilde’s character is in a relationship with Ron Livingston’s character. Likewise, Johnson and Kendrick are also an item. The only problem is that Johnson’s character is pretty much in love with Wilde. So the four of them go on vacation, drink it up, and just…have a good time. There is flirtation getting flung around where it shouldn’t be flung around, but hey, it’s all one big crapshoot anywho. Am I right or am I right…right….right.
Notice how I didn’t really dive into what the movie is about. That is because the movie is not about anything else other than the fact that these people are close, like having a good time, and like to booze it up occasionally. By occasionally, I mean constantly. Make no mistake, the characters have no goals, there is no big life lesson being taught, there is just these four people…living life…that is it. I wish I could tell you that there is a great story here, but there’s really not.
I can’t, however, say anything else that’s bad about the movie. The acting is terrific. You believe these guys, and they all have amazing chemistry together, it’s true! This is clearly a presentation of just…raw unadulterated life, and they pull that off very well. They are able to execute proper awkward, but realistic humor. They all have a lot of character development as well. In fact, the entire movie is just that – character development. It never pulls through, like…there’s no reason to even care about the character development because there is no plot. However, it convinces you that these people are real, and that’s important.
This also had great editing in the visual and sound department, hands down. Each of the scenes looked great, because whoever scouted for scenery did a beautiful job and presented it in a great light. The sound is also very crisp and detailed. You can tell that the sound editor also knew exactly what he was doing. All around, this movie was actually surprisingly done well, the only problem lies in the most important aspect: plot.
I’m sorry folks, but without the plot, there just isn’t substance. You are watching four people live their life, that’s it. It even furthered the realism by having the camera clearly handheld a majority of the time, as if the cameraman was just a part of the gang hanging out with them. I have no problem with trying to make the movie as believable as possible. I only stress that it needed more plot than it had (or didn’t have, rather). So…without substance…you have no reason to watch it again. It’s not exactly “burn” status, but I would definitely skip out on this. You’ll have much better luck finding a variety of better films than this.
On a technical level, you may enjoy this for behind-the-scenes filmmaker stuff, but beyond that, not many people will have a solid reason to watch this apart from the cast. Think about it, had it been led by a range of unknown actors, no one would want to see it whatsoever. I see dependence there, and I never like to see dependence when critiquing a film.
::what others had to say::
“Swanberg’s script allows so much wiggle-room for actors to explore, and the cast of “Drinking Buddies” explores it to fascinating ends.”
“it’s just another independent film that tries to avoid cliches, but by doing so becomes one.”