[FILM] Drinking Buddies

Drinking Buddies - Poster

Drinking Buddies has been popping up all over my radar recently, with fellow film bloggers both reviewing and recommending it. And they do so for good reason as this was an unexpected treat. It struck quite a few chords with me as it delved into the authentic, realistic relationships we build and maintain in the real world.

Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) both work at the same brewery and have quite a lot in common. Both are fun-loving, wise-cracking individuals who enjoy the occasional (understatement) beer together. Initially from the outside we might view them as perfect couple material and believe that there are two serious spanners in these potential works; Jill (Anna Kendrick), Luke’s long-term girlfriend, and Chris (Ron Livingston), Kate’s affluent producer boyfriend. As with all things in life though, things are rarely as they seem at first glance, and not every romantic comedy has a sappy, saccharine and predictable happy ending.

...

You’re such a Mork.

This film relies on its characters and their interactions to carry it through to a conclusion. It has little need for outside influence or plot device. It stays true to the people involved and it presents us with real, relatable individuals who struggle and hide when faced with feelings and emotions that could threaten their carefully constructed cocoons. That’s what we do in real life; there are no grand, sweeping gestures, no declarations of undying love in the rain. Just the cold hard truth that while life may sometimes give you lemons, it doesn’t always give you enough to make lemonade.

I could harp on about these characters and their interesting quirks and flaws until the cows come home, but any in-depth analysis would merely spoil this film for anyone who might want to see it and form their own opinions. I will say that I disagree with Drinking Buddies‘ common synopsis; Kate and Luke are not as perfect for each other as they seem. I believe that this realisation is what completely sold me on the authenticity of this movie.

These two went on the most awkward picnic known to man.

These two went on the most awkward picnic known to man.

While these two stayed at home, had beer with their cornflakes and played blackjack.

While these two stayed at home, had beer with their cornflakes and played blackjack.

Technically, it’s hard for me to comment on areas like script, for example, as I’ve learned that there was none. The entire film was improvised by the actors involved. This news sort of boggled my mind and added a new dimension to the performances. Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens, Tron) simply batted this one out of the park. She was entirely convincing as Kate, with a natural, sometimes beautiful charisma that lit up my screen whenever she was on it. The chemistry she shared with Jake Johnson (New Girl), who plays drinking buddy Luke, is so spot-on that there were times I felt I could suspend all belief that these were roles they were playing. This is a testament to how well the improvised script worked, because they hit the perfect note of realism. Anna Kendrick (50/50, Pitch Perfect) as Luke’s girlfriend Jill was a little less of a revelation, as sometimes I felt unsure as to what kind of person she was trying to be. One minute she’s sociable, witty, and the next she’s a stammering, emotionally inept bore. Maybe that was the point and I just didn’t get it.

One point I did get was that we never really get to know, or learn much about these characters. How true to life is that in itself? How much can we truly learn about a person from ninety minutes of listening to or observing interactions and exchanges? Not all that much. As with real life, as I can attest to, we find our most vulnerable, open moments are those when our guards are let down. When we’re intoxicated. When we’re angry. We learn more about our two main characters during these fleeting moments than we do in the entire film combined. This is a classic example of show, don’t tell. And with an excellent soundtrack to accompany, it was hard not to appreciate what all involved were trying to achieve.

You see some Wilde Boobies during this scene as Olivia gets nekkid. See, I did pay attention to the pole!

You see some Wilde Boobies during this scene as Olivia gets nekkid. See, I did pay attention to the poll!

At first I was hesitant to class Drinking Buddies as a romantic comedy, because aside from the fact that I normally hate them, it didn’t feel romantic. I was a half an hour in and I was wondering where the feck this was all going to go, but by the end I was totally engrossed in this tense, uncommon glimpse into the lives of normal people, who have normal desires and needs. This is what romance is, to me personally, and it’s not all that romantic.

I would recommend this to fans of Wilde, because she was quite breathtaking in this, and anyone who might like a break from the sickly sweet, cliched offerings this genre normally brings to the party. If you like closure in your flicks or a side of Heigl with your rom-com fix, then this isn’t for you.

IMDB Rating: 6.2
Do I agree?: I’d happily give this a 7; for surprising me and, of course, for Olivia Wilde.

V Does DVD Releases (December) 1/12.
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Categories: Film, Review

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46 replies

  1. Been meaning to watch this. And then keep prioritizing something else.

    Maybe after reading yet another positive review, I’ll finally change that. ;-)

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    • I was the same James! Then last night I was in the mood to watch something and this was the only thing on my list that I’d bought and had yet to see, so I stuck it on. Glad I did, it’s worth a watch! No doubt you’ll write an interesting review when you do see it.

      Like

  2. The whole movie made me feel like I was hanging around my group of friends, some I knew well, some I didn’t, have a couple drinks with and just starting shooting the shit. Except everybody here was a lot more attractive than what I’m used to hanging around, but so be it! Good review.

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  3. Love this flick! Top 10 of the year, for me anyway. Everything about it is so honest, genuine, and heartbreaking…I love it! Terrific review!

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    • Yay Joseph! Another one we agree on. There have been a few surprises this year with movies I never saw coming. Honest, genuine and heartbreaking is the perfect way to sum this one up. Thanks for the visit mate!

      Like

  4. I’m kind of looking forward to this film but remain skeptical, I’m glad that you enjoyed it, it’s always rewarding to know that you haven’t wasted your time. Nice review

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    • I was skeptical too, even though quite a few of the reviews I’d read were positive. I do like being surprised though and that probably contributed to how much I enjoyed it. Looking forward to your review of it if you do watch!

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  5. Wow I did not know that the script was improvised! That makes me really want to get to this now. Nice review V!!!

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    • Cheers Tom! Yeah, I was a bit blown away by that little piece of trivia! I couldn’t believe that Wilde and Johnson improvised those scenes, they were so natural, I’d be surprised if they didn’t end up with a potentially great friendship afterward. Wondering what you’ll think of the whole thing!

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      • YEah I’ve been really meaning to get to this one for awhile. Lots of my friends here have seen it and have recommended it. I can’t say I dislike any of the main cast here, so I look forward. :)

        Also, I’m a bit confused. Have you switched hosts for your blog? I swear I was following along this page but now it seems that I’m not. . . .weird. .

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  6. I haven’t heard of this film before. The cast looks good, I’m impressed they didn’t have a script yet it sounds like the movie still worked. Btw, congrats on your 6 months of Spew!

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    • Thank you! :D

      It did work, within the constraints of the story. It’s not at all my usual bag (no explosions or aliens or zombies or fight scenes!) but I enjoyed its simplicity a lot. One of the great things about film blogging is that I’m always coming across titles I would normally pass over, or not notice at all!

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  7. Keep hearing good things, I have to check it out!

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  8. As you can see in my own review that you so kindly linked to ;-), I too thought this was a great film, and seriously made me want to hang out with Olivia Wilde AND Jake Johnson (even though he annoys the hell out of me in New Girl). The cast are amazing, and I have to agree with you that the picnic scene is one of huge cringe factor! And as for Wilde. Wowsers, hot OR WHAT!

    Oh, and what is with your boobs fascination V, I thought I was bad!

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  9. This one totally passed me by. Might give it a watch. Great review.

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  10. Love your layout.
    I’m not a big fan of Wilde, but everyone keeps telling me she’s excellent in this. I’m a fan of Kendrick, so I’ll be sure to give this a watch soon.
    Nice review!

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    • Thank you! I thought Wilde really was excellent. As for Kendrick, I’ve never seen her in anything like this before so it was an interesting one. Thanks for stopping by, looking forward to checking out your place!

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  11. I will have to see this one, even if I usually stay the hell away, with Crosses and Garlic in hands, from Rom-coms, though there have been some exceptions!!

    And you made a mistake with Olivia, you said “Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens, Tron)”, but how could you not include House in hose credits? hahahaha

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    • House! Of course, it introduced me (and most of the world) to Olivia. And yes, rom-coms are not my usual bag either, but this one is a little more true to life than the usual dross.

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  12. what the hey, how am I only hearing about this now? I love this entire cast, I’ll have to add it to my to-watch list for next year :)

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  13. Lol oh Vee, you make-ah tha’ jokes!
    oh & Olivia was already nekkid in another movie with that dude from “Speed Racer.” Her boobs are…meh -REAL TALK! – but she’s pretty cool :)
    Seen a few interviews with her & she’s very down-to-earth and funny.
    Great review! I’m on an action, dark-comedy movie-kick right now, but as soon as I get back into dramas, I’ll try to check this one out (& NOT for Olivia’s boobs)

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    • Aha! What have you been watching lately? I like my action and dark comedy. ;)

      I love Olivia I have to say. It’s her face that pulls you in though, everything else is just a bonus.

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      • Well Vee, you may disown me after this BUT I must be honest with you….I’ve been watching, the ENTIRE…..”Fast & Furious” series :O OMG!!!
        YES it is true!
        One of my Xmas gifts was “FAST 6” and i luv it!! I have a man-crush on paul walker & now that he’s gone, it’s an odd feeling watching these films again.
        i know they’re far from perfect, but at least the stunt work throughout the series has been pretty impressive.
        Also over the holidays, I also saw “The Hobbit 2” (awesome!) “Anchorman 2” (…meh. Ferrell needs new material) & Catching Fire.

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        • I’ve been meaning to watch Fast 6 now for a while. So sad about Walker. I get the feeling that when I do watch it it’ll be a surreal experience. As for how good they are well… we don’t watch that series for the acting, do we? Vrrmmmmmm vrmmmm.

          I’ve seen The Hobbit 2 (AKA Smaaauuuuwg), and I thought it was good, fun, but it had its problems. Which isn’t surprising because the content is stretched to within an inch of its life, but performance-wise, it was excellent. Want to see Anchorman 2, know it won’t like up to the first one though, probably why I’ve been putting it off. Catching Fire was a surprise for me this year, really enjoyed that. What did you think of it?

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          • Vvvrrmmmmmm vrmmmm & grunt*PUNCH*grunt indeed!
            You know the reaction to The Hobbit 2 (aka Bilbo Rises) is insane. A friend of mine who’s read the books, huge Tolkien fan, was appalled and disgusted by the film. I think she wants to take Jackson’s life…yeah she’s pist…
            And I’ve talked to others who are only familiar with Jackson’s film adaptations of Tolkien’s work & they loved DESOLATION.
            One things is for certain though…Everyone friggin loved Smaug’s look and voice :) (Barrell-Rider???) Well senorita, both me & you are in the same boat….”Catching Fire” was great. Well, for me the first hour was a bit slow—but then as soon as they began preparations for the 75th games, it was like “Full Speed Ahead” and things fell into place nicely.
            Loved “the reveal”/cliff-hanger ending :) What’d you think about the ending? Ready for Mockingjay? (Part 1 is due Nov 2014; Part 2 Nov 2015)

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            • Her reaction is understandable! It seems that fans of the original books weren’t all too pleased, and those who haven’t read any of them thought it was wonderful. I myself thought it was okay, entertaining, but a bit disappointing. I don’t want to murder Jackson in his sleep just yet. ;D

              The Catching Fire ending sets things up nicely for the next films. I’m still interested to see how they’ll make that last book into two movies as I really don’t think there’s enough content there. Not to mention the third book was my least favourite of the trilogy. I do have some faith though, I guess we shall see!

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  14. Olivia Wilde really surprised me here, such a great performance. Did not know that it all was done without a script, that indeed adds something to those performances. I did not expect much going into this one, but it was a very pleasant surprise.

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  15. Was annoyed that I missed this one as nowhere seemed to be playing it. Sounds like my type of thing. Great review. :-)

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  16. I have seen the trailer, have been intrigued: yours is the only review i have read, and now I def. want to see it. By coincidence, i was just watching ‘You’re Next’ (very good, see my review on my blog) and Drinking Buddies director Joe Swanberg is in it. Drinking Buddies looks to be his first ‘big’ film (his others have all been of the mumblecore variety)

    Like

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