BUDDY GAMES

YIKES! TOXIC MASCULINITY AT ITS MOST MEDIOCRE

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
30th December 2020

Oh, dear. It seems that the "Toxic Masculinity Is Bad" memo never made it to Josh Duhamel, who not only stars in this latest forehead-slapper, but also wrote, produced and directed 'Buddy Games'. Okay, to be fair, on the Toxicity Scale, 'Buddy Games' is probably at a 6 - no women were harmed in the making of this motion picture... except me, who had to sit through the whole thing. It's just your basic deep-throating a hot dog, testicles in the face, shooting shit and challenging a dangerous animal kind of bravado - but if nothing else, it's just embarrassing to watch thinking that this crap still passes as entertainment to the male species. A lot of the stunts in the film have all been done better - and for real - 20 years ago by the 'Jackass' boys. Even they've now moved on (...until the next alleged sequel comes out in 2021), so what's Duhamel's excuse?

'BUDDY GAMES' TRAILER

The annual and honoured tradition of the Buddy Games held by Bob "The Bobfather" (Duhamel, 'Transformers: The Last Knight') for his group of childhood best friends comes to a grinding halt when Shelly (Dan Bakkedahl, TV's 'The Goldbergs') is permanently and horrifically injured. Five years later, Shelly's mental health has taken a nosedive, and so Bob is emboldened to restart the Buddy Games. This time around, it seems that Shelly isn't the only one of the boys who's fallen on hard times, and so a pot of $150,000 is put up for whoever emerges victorious, as well as pride and a bucket... literally, a bucket with your name written on it in Sharpie. So, who will win? Who needs the money most? And who will unleash their inner turmoil to their best mates because that's what friends are for?

The cast made this script pop when there was little to no snap or crackle.

Upon completion of this film, I likened it to eating KFC: it feels good in the moment, but once it's all over the shame sets in and you wonder what you're doing with your life to have ended up here. Sure, 'Buddy Games' has a couple laughs - but at whose expense? Are we laughing at them, or with them? Why are men so gross? And why, no, seriously, why was Olivia Munn in this movie? Her character made no sense and was embarrassingly tokenistic.

As far as Josh Duhamel's filmmaking skills go, he needs a lot of work. Production-wise, 'Buddy Games' is very pedestrian. As a storyteller - well, it helps if you have a story. And screenwriting... the cast made this script pop when there was little to no snap or crackle. Nick Swardson ('Jack and Jill') carries the whole film, and you can tell he's working really hard to do so. It's exhausting to watch at times.

Despite efforts to wrap this film in a friendship bow to balance out the toxic BS, it doesn't succeed. Audiences aren't stupid. Sure, we indulge in campy, tacky romances and Christmas fare from time to time, but at least those films are honest about what they are trying to be. 'Buddy Games' tries too hard to be funny, whimsical and cool, and it fails at every turn.

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