Drinking Buddies **
One Liner Review:
The kind of movie where the characters are interesting, and the relationships are fine, but nothing really happens and that becomes incredibly frustrating.
This is an okay movie where very little happens. In fact, calling it okay is putting it nicely. You see, the movie is simply about two couples and what might have been. There are almost no big event moments or major problem situations here. In fact, there is really just one which happens early on and then is all but forgotten about until the end. Instead, what we really get is the story of two people who are great friends with sexual tension, and the close calls that they keep having while hanging out together. This movie keeps you constantly wanting to see the two of them get together, mainly because it keeps putting them in ridiculous situaitons where it seems all but inevitable, such as following asleep in the same bed or on a couch, while on top of each other. It’s all pretty dumb. Luckily the movie makes a sharp turn and gets kind of interesting in its final act, with some realistic situations finally coming to the surface.
Drinking Buddies is a movie that wants to be and feel real. With that in mind, it has the approach that the realistic situation is the one where nothing actually happens. It’s the one where friends of the opposite sex think about each other, as maybe something more than that, but otherwise don’t act on these things. What’s funny is that the moments that are the most interesting in the movie are the few where something actually happens. When two people, both in relationships, are out for a hike together and end up kissing, it’s the best scene in the movie. And that’s simply because we finally get what we’ve been waiting for. But then the movie goes on for a long time after that, and never actually delivers anything of the same caliber again.
This is a film about two people. Each of them is in a relationship, and so, including their spouses, you can say that it’s a movie about two couples. But it really isn’t. It’s about the two characters who work together. Kate (Olivia Wilde,) and Luke (Jake Johnson.) These two work at a local brewery where Luke makes the beer and Kate answers the calls and does event planning. The movie takes its time introducing the characters and their relationships. That’s because there is no real conflict here. At least nothing until the very end portions of the film.
We meet Kate and Luke at work and watch them have lunch together. This is their daily routine. The two of them are best friends. Then we watch them go home to their significant others. Jill (Anna Kendrick) is with Luke and Chris (Ron Livingston,) is with Kate. Jill and Luke have been together for a while. They talk of getting married someday. Chris and Kate, on the other hand, have a very light and new relationship. They sleep together, but she doesn’t even stay over afterwards. Jill is independent and won’t let Chris call a cab for her or give her money for one. Instead, she has her bike right outside his door, parked against a tree, and rides it everywhere she goes.
After we meet the characters and spend a little bit of time with them, we get the scene of them meeting each other. Specifically Chris meeting all of Kate’s coworkers. It’s at an event at the brewery which she has planned and decorated. This is the scene where you would think something might happen. We’ve gotten our character intros out of the way, we know what’s what, and now it’s time for something to happen. Only it doesn’t. The only thing that comes of this scene is that Chris meets everyone.
That enables us to have the next sequence, where the two couples go away together for a weekend. They rent a cabin up in the countryside and go for a road trip together in order to get there. Once at the cabin, Luke spends a strange amount of time hanging out with Kate alone, while Jill and Chris do the same thing. And the movie stays with each of them. Jill and Chris go for a hike, and the movie unwisely cuts back and forth between the two couples in different locations, so that we don’t really get to see what brings on the big event that happens out on this hike. Jill and Chris kiss. That’s the big event. The only thing we see before it, that can point to leading in this direction, is Jill telling Chris that her heart is beating really fast, and that she’s not sure why. But there had to be more than that. Chris had to give her a signal or something that told her it would be okay to say something like this. Or the other way around. If we was going to kiss her, he needed to know that it would be okay, and that she wouldn’t go running off to tell her boyfriend and ruin the weekend for everyone.
Still, that is the big event moment, and the moment of conflict, and really one of the only ones in the entire film. So the fact that it doesn’t happen realistically or isn’t presented in the best way means nothing, considering this movie makes us feel like we are lucky to even get such a scene at all. Aside from the day together with Chris and Jill out hiking and Kate and Luke stuck inside playing cards, Kate and Luke also find themselves heading to the beach together that night, making a fire and lying out beside it. Now, in the case of this moment, it is explained that Jill and Luke were hanging out downstairs and Jill fell asleep, and that’s when Kate and Luke went out. In the case of the hike from earlier, we are given no explanation whatsoever. And let’s be realisitc for a moment. There’s no way that Jill and Chris would go hiking together and that Luke and Kate would be cool with that. Even if Luke and Kate didn’t really want to go, they would have sucked it up and gone anyway to be good boyfriend / girlfriends. In a real situation, this just would not happen. Especially considering that Luke barely knows Chris at all, and just met him for the first time recently.
After returning from the road trip, with a car ride back that has Luke and Kate sleeping in the back seat beside each other while Chris and Jill are up front, (another unrealistic situation,) we see Luke and Jill get dropped off, and Chris tell Kate that they need to talk. That’s all we get of this discussion. The next thing we know, it’s the following day, and Kate is coming into work telling everyone that she’s single. Why deprive us of the breakup scene? Now we just wait patiently for Luke and Kate to get it on. The movie keeps putting us in situaitons where it seems like it’s about to happen, only it doesn’t.
With Kate’s first night of being single again, she invites all of the guys she works with to go out to a bar and celebrate with her. Kate is the only woman working for the brewing company, another kind of unrealistic situation. During this night out, one by one, each guy leaves, until at last there is only one guy left with her. It’s not Luke. The next day we learn that Kate went home with this guy and slept with him. Luke is not happy.
Jill goes away for the week, and suddenly Kate and Luke start spending a lot of time together. One night she sleeps over at his house. Another day, he helps her move and they end up at the new place together. There are ample opportunities for them to get together, including the two of them falling asleep on top of each other on more than one occasion. Only nothing happens. At the end, we do get a bit of a discussion between them about their friendship and how Luke has no right to be mad at her for sleeping with certain people. While it’s not the two of them getting together, it does feel like an “at last,” kind of moment, because at least now they are finally addressing the elephant in the room.
That elephant is the fact that they have been coming so close to getting together. They mention that Kate has slept in Luke’s bed beside him. She puts it on him because he never stopped her. When this is the most climactic scene of the movie, with the biggest conflict, you know there’s a problem. Drinking Buddies isn’t terrible, because it does hold out attention with the promise of something to come. We keep watching because we want to see how it’s going to happen. The problem is, the movie never delivers on that promise. Instead, it keeps us in a constant state of expecting something and never getting it. I suppose the movie thinks it’s clever that way, staying ahead of the audience instead of making the story predictable. The problem is there are just way too many close calls and false promises.