Friday, August 23, 2013

Movie Review: Drinking Buddies (2013)

Movie: Drinking Buddies (2013)
Director: Joe Swanberg
Writer: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, & Jason Sudeikis
One-Line Plot Synopsis: Two buddies (Johnson & Wilde) working at a brewery have a friendly/flirty relationship and look to be compatible on every level, except that they’re both in relationships.

I haven’t had the chance to see a Joe Swanberg movie before (and he’s made a bunch of them), but I’ve heard that they follow pretty much the same formula each time.  There's a basic outline of an idea for a movie with a lot of conversational scenes of everyday situations focusing on a realistic look at the relationships between people.  They tend to rely heavily on the improvisational skills of the cast and hopefully those actors can incorporate events and interactions from their own lives into the characters that they are playing.  Sounds simple enough, right?
Olivia Wilde plays the lead female role in the movie.  She is also a producer on this film so you can tell that it’s a film and story that she truly believes in, going as far as to pull in a small cameo role for her current boyfriend Jason Sudeikis into the movie (he is freaking everywhere these days).   It’s refreshing to see her in a role that’s actually fleshed out a little bit and where she has the chance to explore some depth in a character that her usual roles don’t usually allow for or really even ask for her to try.  She’s been able to get along so far in roles that are paper thin and basically added scenery to what is happening around her.  In Drinking Buddies, she finally gets to play someone who has you think about the reasons behind her actions and isn’t playing something that’s just nice to look at.  And you know what, she does a helluva job.  It surprised the fuck outta me too.  If you look at her previous roles it’s basically a list of Blockbuster summer flicks that are as middle of the road as the come (Tron: Legacy, In Time, Cowboys & Aliens, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Change Up, The Next Three Days, Year One).  It’s a murderer’s row of pretty much crap.  Hopefully this movie is a bit of a turning point for her career and she goes the route of more diverse roles because if this movie is any evidence, she can actually pull them off.
Jake Johnson is someone who has been getting more and more regular work in movies albeit in either smaller sized movies or smaller sized roles.  He has a very unique voice, looks like a young Mark Ruffalo, and as evidenced by Drinking Buddies, can certainly pull off a beard quite well.  He does seem to be playing the character who doesn’t know how to appropriately express his feelings as he slowly falls into a drunken haze, so hopefully he can begin attempting to explore other types of roles that can capitalize on his easy-going comedic skills and likability.  He toes the line well of a guy in a seemingly happy relationship that participates in flirty “work-relationship” while he’s at his job in the brewery.  I feel like these kinds of relationships exist a lot between young, attractive guys and gals in the workplace.  It makes sense if you think about it, since you pretty much spend more of your week with that person in the office than you do with your actual significant other outside of it.  Add in the drudgery of most people’s lives as cube monkeys and you have a recipe that hinges on harmless (most of the time) flirtations.
The movie plays very authentic for me since I’m the general demographic that it’s focusing on.  A lot of the scenes at the bar between Wilde and Johnson are nights that could have or did happen to me after a work happy hour turns into a work all-nighter at the bar.  Of course, that’s back when I was able to recuperate the next day as if nothing happened, make it to work on time, and basically shrug off the ensuing hangover.  Now it takes me five days off minimum for every one day on.  I am aware of the patheticness of this…believe me, if anyone is, I am.
I really enjoyed watching these characters interact and am always in favor of roles for Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick in my movies.  Anna Kendrick is quickly rising up my favorite actresses list and I like how she’s keeping her role choices really diverse.  Ron Livingston can do anything he wants in my mind after the trifecta of Office Space, Band of Brothers, and Swingers.  It’s not as funny to watch Office Space now as I realize how close it actually is to what a 9-5 cubicle job is like…or maybe it’s more funny but in a so true it’s funny kind of way.  I don’t know.  What I do know is this; I wish I was Jake Johnson in this movie:
  1. Dating Anna Kendrick
  2. Growing a sweet beard
  3. Working with Olivia Wilde
  4. Working at a Brewery
Not a bad life.

Rating: 8/10
Side Notes:
  • Olivia Wilde’s real name is Olivia Jane Cockburn.  Yikes.  I would have changed that up to.
  • They actually drank real beer in this movie.  Now THAT is a movie I want to work on.
  • This is the first movie I've watched On Demand before it came out in the theatre...I could get used to that.
  • Soundtrack Rating: 7/10
  • Song from the Soundtrack that you should listen to: “Dragon” by The Amazing

  • Favorite Scene: Both times when Jake Johnson is playing the black jack dealer with the girls.  Room Temp City.