Different isn’t always good. Appreciated, but not always good. With the cookie-cutter film industry of Hollywood being what it is, when something even a little bit different comes along, you’ve got to give it its props and acknowledgment.
Meet the employees of craft beer brewery Revolution Brewing. In the new film ‘Drinking Buddies’ the story centres around co-workers Kate and Luke, who spend their days and nights eating, drinking, working, drinking, flirting, drinking, yet more flirting and yet even more drinking, despite both already being in relationships. In real life, Kate and Luke are actors Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson, who were given nothing but daily plot outlines and the rest - including all dialogue - was improvised. Not that this kind of setup is unheard of; writer/director/actor Christopher Guest is quite famous, and successfully so, for improvised works - but is Guest the exception or the rule?
What this cast of actors (also including Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston) have accomplished here is very skilled and impressive, but the question remains - is it any good? The problem with ‘Drinking Buddies’ is not the film's approach, but the story itself. Male/female friendships that grow to something more are hardly new, both on screen and off. But that’s just it - on screen, they represent a fantasy with problems that are resolved within five minutes and a happy ending where everyone gets what they want and nobody is hurt. In real life, they’re awkward as hell, painful, heartbreaking and usually no one ends up happy and friendships are never the same again. Since we have to deal with that in the real world, why on earth would we pay good money to see the same thing portrayed by strangers? Yes, believe it or not, ‘Drinking Buddies’ is too real.
Too many parallels can be drawn between the film and the audience's real-life experiences and not in a fun, funny or ironic kind of way. ‘Drinking Buddies’ features talented performances by talented actors. As a film, it’s an interesting experiment and compelling at times, but as a story - enter at your own risk.