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Drinking Buddies

Drinking Buddies

What She said:

She

Time to set aside all those preconceived notions you have about the type of people who work at breweries.  Ok, well maybe it’s not quite time, as comedy/kind-of-romance Drinking Buddies does little to dispel the assumption that these people are a bunch of alcoholic, irresponsible hipsters who fly each day by the seat of their pants, are incapable of forging lasting relationships, and do little in the way of planning for the future. 

Drinking Buddies follows co-workers and pals Kate and Luke.  They have this super flirtatious relationship that is deeply rooted, but is yet-to-evolve into anything more than a friendship.  In fact, both of them have partners that they are serious with.  Kate is with Chris, who is an intellectual and somewhat older, and Luke has been with Jill for several years.  But even when the four of them are around each other, it’s clear that the stronger partnership is actually between Kate and Luke, rather than with either of their significant others. 

Things deteriorate for both couples when they decide to spend a few days away together at Chris’s family cabin.  Chris and Jill click, and things move beyond flirtatious with the two of them.  In the meantime, Kate and Luke are oblivious, living instead in their bubble of immaturity.  Chris breaks up with Kate shortly after the vacation, and Jill responds to the situation by pressuring Luke into marriage.  In the meantime, Kate, shaken by the break-up begins to pursue Luke a little bit harder, but he’s deeply committed to Jill and so he doesn’t bite.  The interactions between the two of them become somewhat strained, as neither one can really handle the situation as an adult.  The ending here is left vague.  Kate and Luke seem like friends forever, and possibly more, but Jill and Luke also remain together so who even knows.  I guess it’s all left for personal interpretation.

There were things I liked about this movie and others that I didn’t.  Firstly, it seems super authentic.  These people are real, even down to their outwardly messy appearance.  They’re not all glammed out.  They drink (a lot), fart, sweat, smell, etc., and that makes them relatable.  On the flip side, I can only relate somewhat because I am infinitely more mature than these people.  But, I, too, sweat when it’s hot and sometimes go without make-up, so I was able to bond on some level. 

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson actually had really good chemistry as Kate and Luke.  They played nicely together and their friendship seemed genuine.  They were almost too genuine in the sense that I wanted to just yell at them to hook up already.  But alas, the timing wasn’t right.  And I think that’s a valuable takeaway from this movie.  Unlike many relationships that we see depicted on screen—which often seem to fall into place seamlessly—the timing just doesn’t seem right for Kate and Luke, as often is the case in real life.  Now, part of it is that they have some growing up to do, as Luke needs to assess what relationship he finds more fulfilling, the one with Kate or the one with Jill.  But it’s refreshing in a backwards way to see things not totally work out.

Drinking Buddies

This movie is shot mostly with a handheld camera, which makes you feel like you’re just witnessing the events as they unfold.  There’s no orchestral score to this, and long stretches go by without music in general, and so the content of this movie is not dramatized by that audible element.  Instead, the music we hear is part of the scenes on screen, as we watch Kate and Luke live their lives.  This style of storytelling has its ups and downs.  My big down here is that it sometimes becomes boring to watch.  I mean, the filmmakers didn’t show the most mundane of daily life, but sometimes it’s hard for someone like me to just watch people interact off-the-cuff.  They’re just flirting and talking with no real end-game. 

Feeling like I was a part of these people’s lives did not entirely appeal to me because, let’s face it, I don’t want to be them.  Have I mentioned that they’re flat out alcoholics who drink daily on the job as well as practically every evening?  They don’t seem to have much direction in their lives, and they also have trouble navigating life’s less difficult challenges.  So yeah, I don’t envy them and it is, at times, painful to feel like I’m there with them.

This movie is really about these characters and watching them move through existence.  I cannot say that any of these individuals really grew as people, so in that sense there isn’t much payoff.  But, it was pretty interesting to watch them go about their daily routines.

Thumbs half up.

What he said:

He

Are you friendly with your coworkers? How friendly? Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) are best friends. They also work in a brewery. Kate works in the office and handles things like sales and events, while Luke is one of the guys who helps make the beer. They are very close. They eat lunch together every day. They hang out with one another after weekends, on the weekend, and are around each other almost constantly. They tell each other everything and are very flirty with one another, but have never dated.
They both actually have significant others. Luke has a fiancé named Jill (Anna Kendrick). Jill is a special education teacher, not as naturally outgoing as he is, and has her act together more than he does.  Kate’s boyfriend Chris (Ron Livingston) is pretty similar to Jill.

Drinking Buddies

They also drink a lot.  They drink at work, after work, on the weekends – beer is what they do. It’s not just their livelihood, it’s their life. They drink beer the way normal people drink water or coffee around the office. Some might even call them alcoholics.

To some, working in this kind of environment might sound like a dream come true. I’m not one of them. I couldn’t be around someone who drinks at lunch every…single…day, after work every…single…day, as well as all weekend. I couldn’t hang out with the kind of person who moves from one apartment to another all in the span of 24 hours, because they are too lazy to do anything sooner than that. I could probably get a beer with them – and have a good time with them in the process – but I couldn’t be around that type of person more than a limited basis. I’m not that spontaneous, nor do I want to be. I like to have a good time, but I also like structure, and frankly don’t drink that frequently.

After hanging out a little bit, Chris invites Luke and Jill to go to his family’s vacation home with him and Kate for the weekend. Jill and Chris end up hanging out quite a bit. They go for hikes, picnics, and talk about books, while Luke and Kate pretty much lounge around drinking beer most of the time (a big change from their daily life).

After the weekend, two of the four people come home a lot less sure about their relationship, while the other two are business as usual. The four of them are forced to deal with the results. Both relationships, as well as Luke and Kate’s friendship, are tested.

Luke and Kate weren’t the most relatable characters. I mentioned above that their lifestyle is not my lifestyle. Neither is their work environment. I don’t think I could deal with a job where you drink throughout the day and everybody is friends. It’s too involved for my tastes. I don’t want to be around anyone as frequently as these people are on a daily basis.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the movie though. It was funny but had just enough drama to break up the lighter moments. It was an entertaining coming-of-age tale about a couple of buddies and how they cope with their feelings for one another, as well as how that affects their relationships.

I have to give credit to Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde. They had excellent chemistry. They played the friends who could be more if a couple of things go a certain way types very well. They were very funny together. Now that I think about it, Jake Johnson had chemistry with both ladies. Just because his character may or may not have had feelings for Kate doesn’t mean he didn’t have chemistry with the Jill character. He worked well with both women’s characters.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 13, 2014.

Drinking Buddies

 

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