Drinking Buddies

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drinking buddies

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson have great chemistry as drinking buddies and co-workers.

Be careful what you wish for….

One of my biggest complaints is that movies give us characters that aren’t realistic and try so hard to be quirky for the sake of quirkiness (I’m looking at you, Zooey Deschanel).

So here’s a cast of wonderful actors, that all seem like people we know. They have regular conversations about things like getting married, or stress at the job. It’s all very organic and natural, but it’s also not all that interesting.

Joe Swanberg, who has a small part as an angry motorist, wrote and directed this movie (he’s also a smarmy character in You’re Next). He’s a fan of the improvisational type of script. That’s probably a great exercise for acting classes, but they don’t always translate into the best movies.

Yet there are moments of this I find intimate and refreshing. It’s nice to see a woman (Olivia Wilde) show up for work, casually flirt with a co-worker Jake Johnson, and grab a beer before going to her office. That scenario did created a disagreement between me and another critic, who insisted they’re all alcoholics. I just thought they were trying to show what 20 and 30-year-olds would do that work at a microbrewery. Why not grab a pale lager before going into the break room for lunch?

The flirtation between Wilde and Johnson is kept in check by the fact that they’re dating other people – the always enjoyable Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air). It’s nice that this doesn’t go down the conventional romantic comedy roads you may be expecting.

These two couples end up together at a lake house in Michigan. There’s one scene that’s so perfectly written. Wilde is in bed with Livingstone, and hears the other couple drinking and playing cards. She gets up and joins them. There’s no big blow-up or petty jealousies that come to the surface. It’s just real people, that we suspect all yearn to be in different places in their (love) lives. Perhaps one of these relationships is on the verge of ending, and a new one blossoming. Yet it’s not predictable as to which direction it will go. It makes you sit back and wonder why more movies couldn’t be done this way.

I was a bit confused by Wilde’s real life fiancé Jason Sudeikis (We’re the Millers). He shows up as the boss in a meeting, and has one night of drinking with the crew. Then he just disappears.

It’s refreshing when there’s a friendship or crush on screen that we totally understand. Often times, you’re watching a movie wondering about the motivations or relationships of certain characters. That just doesn’t away from the fact that there’s not enough here.

It was mildly interesting to watch the jealousies brewing up. For example, one dopey guy in the brewery sleeps with a woman another guy likes. It doesn’t turn into a big fist fight. The dopey guy isn’t bragging about it like an Andrew Dice Clay routine. It all seems so real.

This movie had me thinking a lot about Extract from three years ago. It’s the Mike Judge (Office Space) movie nobody saw, with Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, and the future Batman – Ben Affleck. I liked it a bit better than Drinking Buddies.

This gets 2 ½ stars out of 5. I suggest you take your drinking buddies to see The World’s End – the best drinking movie of the last 5 years.

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