Oh how I love little indies with actors acting like real people. Last year brought me “10 Years” and “Liberal Arts.” This year, I’ve seen a couple of good ones in “The Way Way Back” and now this movie which is about as down to earth as you can possibly get. Starring Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston in roles that they probably could have shown up at and done in their sleep, this little film isn’t as much about watching a movie for an hour and a half as it is a study into human nature and how we handle being in monogamous relationships while having friends of the opposite sex. Much like the topic approached in “When Harry Met Sally” so many years ago, “Drinking Buddies” updates the idea and brings it to a hipper and younger generation.
No more is “Harry” an uptight college graduate trying to talk his way into a young coed’s pants. In this film, the lead character, Luke (played by Johnson), is just a regular joe. He works at a brewery, likes his beer and is the best friend that anybody could have. And in this case, his best friend is a girl…and her name is Kate (Wilde). Kate is the girl that ALL guys wish they had as a friend. She is not only hot…but she’s a slob who loves to drink, loves to shoot pool and can’t be involved in a serious relationship. She’s also not above a one-night stand and she is devoted to her job. She is obviously a perfect friend for Luke, who ALSO enjoys drinking, shooting pool, and is as charismatic a character as any girl could want. Except he’s taken. And he’s faithful to his girlfriend, Jill (Kendrick). The chemistry between the 2 leads in this film is palpable. They obviously like each other and from the outside looking in, they are perfect for one another. However as the movie goes on, you start to wonder…will they ever get together? Are they really made for each other or is the unique chemistry between them simply that of a truly wonderful friendship?
Needless to say there is a lot of emotional resonance in this film. Both characters are excellent in their roles as they genuinely seem to enjoy being with one another. Wilde is excellent as Kate, a woman who is not emotionally all there and Johnson is perfect as Luke, a guy you just KNOW you could have a beer with and never have lag in the conversation. What lacks in this particular script is fire. Despite there being this underlying tension about their feelings for one another, what never seems to spark is a feeling that, if they DID pursue a monogamous relationship, that it would be any better than what they have now. It’s not until the final scenes, when Luke helps Kate move into a new apartment, that we see that, despite the fact that they SEEM to be perfect for each other, they really are VERY different in the way their lives flow.
Although I enjoyed “Drinking Buddies,” I can’t say it’s for everybody. It moves a little slow and has a very “made for television” appeal. But the chemistry between the leads and the strength of the other actors involved (Kendrick & Livingston) makes this a great date night RedBox rental. I recommend it!
Overall Rating: B-