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DRINKING BUDDIES (director/writer: Joe Swanberg; cinematographer: Ben Richardson; editor: Joe Swanberg; music: Richard Swift; cast: Olivia Wilde (Kate), Jake Johnson (Luke), Anna Kendrick (Jill), Ron Livingston (Chris), Jason Sudeikis (Brewery owner); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Paul Bernon/Sam Slater/Andrea Roa/Joe Swanberg/Alicia Van Couvering; Magnolia Pictures; 2013)
“The actors are so casual it doesn’t look like they’re performing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Indie “mumblecore” filmmaker Joe Swanberg(“Kissing on the Mouth”/”LOL”/”VHS”) runs by us an effortless, observant and genial dramedy about playful and still immature hard working young adult friends giving hints that they want more than a platonic relationship but find it difficult to say to the other what it is they really want. The actors are so casual it doesn’t look like they’re performing, which makes it all the more enticing. Unfortunately the pic never takes us to another level, and its fun never grows or is sustained.

At an easygoing Chicago brewery, filled with young adults workers and a young boss (Jason Sudeikis) trying to be hip even if he isn’t, bearded brewer Luke (Jake Johnson) and marketing director Kate (Olivia Wilde) are co-workers and drinking buds, who would seem natural partners but are not because it seems both have a significant other. Luke for the last six years is involved with special ed teacher Jill (Anna Kendrick) and marriage plans are in the horizons. Meanwhile drinking party gal Kate is starting to see the older, more conservative, gentlemanly successful music producer Chris (Ron Livingston), whom she introduces to work pals at a brewery get-together.After the brewery shindig, Chris invites Luke and Jill to his comfortable lakeside cabin for an ill-conceived week-end of funfor the two couples. It results in heavy drinking, storytelling, and flirting intermingled with many awkward silent moments filled with sexual tension. It leaves us guessing how things will turn out since we can read their minds and wonder if they will act out their impulses and change partners or if being good friends doesn’t equate to a romantic relationship.

Good (but not great) stuff that veers between conventional mainstream sitcom and intense mumblecore romantic angst, giving the pic an ironic twist that leaves the hipster slacker co-workers tongue-tied to say to themselves that they are locked into relationships with partners that are not right for them (something the viewer clearly sees from the get-go).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”