While I’m too young to drink and haven’t done so, I still like to get together with my buddies and hangout. We relax, talk about whatever is on our minds, and we usually end up going through a case of Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew. No matter your age, everyone needs to unwind, have a drink of their choosing, and spend time with their friends. This simple act is something that millions if people do across the world and it’s easily relatable to our everyday lives. Without this kickback session, well, we might just lose our minds.
Luke (Jake Johnson) works in a brewery in Chicago. He makes beer, he tastes beer, and then he goes home to his girlfriend Jill (Anna Kendrick). On the upper level of the brewery is Kate (Olivia Wilde), the beautiful woman who just happens to own and run the brewery. After work, she rides her bike home to her pseudo-intellectual boyfriend, Chris (Ron Livingston). At work, Luke and Kate easy their lunches together and even commit to some office flirting. As the two knock back a few beers after work, feelings come to the forefront, but are quelled when the two think of their partners. After a meet-and-greet event at the brewery, Luke and Jill agree to head up to Chris’ cabin for a mellow weekend full of swimming and hiking.
Once at the cabin, the two couples mesh and Luke and Kate get some time to themselves. Similarly, Chris and Jill go off on their own after the couples seem to pull apart. Based on the time alone, it’s clear that Kate shouldn’t be with Chris and that she has growing feelings for her co-worker. Everyone feels something with one another, it’s just a matter of acting on those feelings that stalls what could be in the future. The flirting is there and so is the beer, but it’s unsure if anything will amount from either.
Whether or not you work at a brewery is irrelevant. Everyone has been in a setting where people either flirt or drink. Typically, those two go hand in hand and that’s no surprise. When people get together and open up about themselves (whether by choice or not), finding yourself enticed by something that someone had shared. It’s only natural to feel attraction, but it takes a real person to ignore that and stick to who they love.
I was really glad to see Olivia Wilde do well in this film. She’s shown glimpses of talent in some of her smaller roles and in her larger role on (House). Here, she carries the film with New Girl‘s Jake Johnson. The two possess great chemistry that makes watching their interactions all the more fun. They play off one another well, while also having more serious sides with Livingston and Kendrick. The work playtime can quickly transition into serious moments that force the characters to consider all their options.
Director Joe Swanberg is really starting to gain traction and he’s at his very best with Drinking Buddies. His ability to create familiar characters and settings is wonderful and his camera work allows us to get close to the emotions of the characters. The simplicity of the conversations that occur in the film work because they’re conversations that you’ve probably had yourself. It’s very easy to fund yourself drawn into this movie and it’s one that prices to be a great hangout movie.
Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston also do great jobs in this film, but they’re entirely underused. It’s understandable that they’re have small parts, but they at little to the story. Given the nature of their “star power”, you get caught up in who they are and why they aren’t doing more. More than Kendrick, Livingston is given a one-dimensional character who isn’t supposed to have anything going for him. He’s the only character who didn’t gel with the story and I found it hard to believe that Wilde’s character would date him in the first place.
While striving to avoid the conventional Rom-Com formula, Drinking Buddies finds itself wandering aimlessly sometimes and you’re not quite sure why something is happening. The characters, while relatable in their actions, aren’t always interesting and can often lose your attention. For an hour-and-thirty-minute film, Drinking Buddies does seem to go rather slowly and isn’t all that memorable. The film strives to be unorthodox and more of an art house film and that can discern many people, myself included. It wasn’t very funny and it wasn’t too romantic and it’s stuck somewhere in-between.
If you want to sit down, enjoy a drink, and watch this film, you’ll probably end up having a good time. Even if you’re not drinking something, you’ll still enjoy it. It’s not going to be the best thing you’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly something that will feel more personal than most films do. However, don’t be surprised when this film leaves your mind in a week or so. It’s got its subtle charm and fun moments, but it doesn’t exactly age well. Then again, neither does beer (not that I would know).
Drinking Buddies Trailer