The way I feel as soon as a movie ends says everything about what I thought of it. I hate to narrow it down to one thing, but at the end of Drinking Buddies I was filled with such… goodness. It made me very happy.
Prior to the viewing, I knew nothing about the film except for the actors involved, and that was enough to intrigue me. Drinking Buddies follows Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson); two co-workers turned best friends. They’re playful and flirty with each other in a way that makes you think they are definitely meant to be together, but also in a way that makes them seem like brother and sister. It’s very familiar and fun and seemingly innocent – at first. It better be, because they both have significant others. Luke is dating Jill (Anna Kendrick), an adorable sweetheart. Kate is dating Chris (Ron Livingston) a mature, well-versed, educated, nice guy. Through Kate and Luke’s friendship, the two couples take a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods. What could go wrong?
Amidst everything is a lot of beer drinking. Kate and Luke work in a brewery, so naturally, they consume it on a daily basis. And who would work in a brewery if they didn’t enjoy a good beer? This whole aspect of the movie was one of my favorite things about it. As a person who has worked in a craft beer bar in South Philly with a brother who has turned me into a total beer snob, I really appreciated the authenticity of this. There wasn’t even much actual “beer talk,” but Kate and Luke and all the brewery workers really carried it in their being. I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to go back to South Philly. I most definitely wanted to drink some beers.
God, was this movie relatable. It was easy to see myself in both female characters and feel what they were going through. Wilde was incredibly impressive in her performance. She was just so real. She and Johnson had amazing chemistry and played off each other so nicely. Not to take anything away from Kendrick. She has a scene in there where I felt myself holding my breath. Johnson is seriously my new favorite actor. After binge watching New Girl seasons 1 and 2, I couldn’t wait to see him in this role. He’s amazing. I look forward to what he does next.
Finally, my man Joe Swanberg. Wrote and directed this gem. (OK, no, I did not know anything about him before this film, but you better believe he’s on my radar now. Hannah Takes the Stairs is totally on my list.) Swanberg is an actor’s director. Which makes sense because he is an actor himself. Since most of the movie is improv, there was a lot of discussion and input from the talent. In an interview, he talks about creating a safe space for his actors. “Even when you’re a professional actor who has been doing it for forever, it’s still a really vulnerable position to be in. It’s a hard job. It’s often an embarrassing job — you’re performing in front of people who may or may not appreciate that. You’re sort of putting yourself out there. It sounds simple, but it goes a long way to remind someone — even someone who is a famous movie star — that they’re good at what they do.” Swanberg currently has a movie in post production set for release in 2014 called Happy Christmas, starring Kendrick and Lena Dunham. Can’t wait!
Drinking Buddies is available on iTunes but if you want to see it in theatres, you have only one week to do it! Starting August 30th at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. Afterwards you might want to swing by City Tavern in Culver City and indulge in some real beer. OR you can just head to Golden Road Brewing TONIGHT for a free screening on their lawn followed by a Q&A with Mr. Swanberg.
“I don’t think I put enough mustard on.” “I put a lot of mustard on.”
Lindsay Stetson is a former collegiate field hockey player and sports journalist who is currently writing, producing and acting in the web anthology Conversations In Cars while working on feature spec scripts and her acting career. She’s on Twitter (but only technically) @LStet