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September 6, 2013
Lets Talk Drinking Buddies: Mumblecore’s Response to the Rom Com
— Posted by Kenny Miles
Romantic comedies have a strict, generic formula they usually adhere. Boy and girl meet. There is a spark between them. Something keeps them apart. An event occurs leading toward a big emotional confession. They get together. The End. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies a movie that could fool audiences into thinking it is one. Trust me, it isn’t. Other movies would benefit if they could replicate the unpredictable nature of a movie like Drinking Buddies. Cool enough for guys to go see it together and sensitive enough with a strong leading female protagonist for it to be a fun date movie, Drinking Buddies was the one of the big movies at the SXSW Film Festival this past March. I adored this movie when I saw it then and enjoyed re-watching it. It is FINALLY being released for audiences to discover.
Synopsis: Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery, where they spend their days drinking and flirting. They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships. Luke is in the midst of marriage talks with his girlfriend of six years, Kate is playing it cool with her music producer boyfriend Chris. But you know what makes the line between “friends” and “more than friends” really blurry? Beer. (c) Magnolia
The understated charm of Drinking Buddies is the chemistry between Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde. Chemistry this great is impossible to pull off. The mumblecore improvisation really makes Drinking Buddies soar. Olivia Wilde delivers one of the better performances of her career. She seems so alive and had a blast during every moment of this movie. With their fun, kinetic energy and beer setting premise, no wonder this has done very well on VOD. Playing in theaters was planned, but ideal for night of going out with friends or a loved one.
Drinking Buddies deserves any mainstream success it can achieve. However, I am considering with the marketing of this movie portraying it as a cutesy, light hearted comedy. Serious stuff happens as emotions and attraction happen. Expectations can sometimes make or break a movie. Miscommunicating the marketing to the general public doesn’t help. I adored this movie when I saw it at the SXSW Film Festival back in March. If I had seen the poster and trailer to the movie back then, I would’ve been let down. It still is great, just not what is being sold. As long as you have reasonable expectations, most moviegoers should enjoy this drama comedy. Just don’t forget the beer.
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Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion for interacting with moviegoers (something most movie pundits lack) as a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore and working as floor staff/special events coordinator in the film community. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.
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