Cheers to DRINKING BUDDIES On DemandAugust 25, 2013

Cheers to DRINKING BUDDIES On Demand

Magnolia Pictures

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: DRINKING BUDDIES (Magnolia).


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By Chris Claro

Mumblecore practitioner Joe Swanberg graduates to the world of enunciation, decent lighting and professional grade cameras with his latest, DRINKING BUDDIES. The story of Luke and Kate, each attached but attracted to each other, DRINKING BUDDIES is a good example of what happens when a specialty filmmaker tries his hand at a genre piece. How does the filmmaker acquit himself when toiling in the field of romcom?

After Kate (Olivia Wilde, THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE) is dumped by Chris, (Ron Livingston, DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS) she finds herself leaning on her friends, couple Luke (Jake Johnson, NEW GIRL) and Jill (Anna Kendrick, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP) for support. Gradually, Luke and Kate begin to acknowledge that what is going on between them might be more than just friendship.

Swanberg, to his credit, subverts the expectations of romantic comedy by having his characters actually talk to each other about the ramifications of coupling and betrayal as opposed to acting on them. Instead of having people jump into bed with the first person who crosses their paths, the characters actually consider the effects their actions would have on their mates. Though it makes for a chatty flick, it’s refreshing to see mature, adult dialogue coming from the mouths of the protagonists and all the more impressive because the actors improvised all of it.

In addition to the upgraded production values, Swanberg works with recognizable, mainstream actors in DRINKING BUDDIES, another element that makes it one of his most accessible works to date. Wilde and Johnson, workmates in a craft brewery, have an easy rapport and each is immensely appealing. Kendrick uses her uptight attractiveness skillfully, wanting to give Luke his space but terrified that she may lose him. Even an unbilled Jason Sudeikis, Wilde’s betrothed, makes an impression in his brief appearance as another brewery employee.

DRINKING BUDDIES is that rare comedy that doesn’t condescend and appeals to both genders, a credit to its no-villains bipartisanship. Swanberg avoids cliché by making each of the characters realistically flawed and human – no one is an asshole, as often occurs in mainstream romantic comedies as a means of allowing the audience to understand why the wronged lead character is considering straying.

Swanberg is clearly working on a minibudget in DRINKING BUDDIES, but the film doesn’t look at all cheap or undershot. Though some of his early works conveyed a sense of self-indulgence and insularity, Swanberg appears more disciplined with this film, presenting a conventional, cohesive narrative, free of distractions.

Singular and incisive, DRINKING BUDDIES features excellent performances in an offbeat tale of love. Sidle up and have a seat for DRINKING BUDDIES.




- Chris Claro



Chris Claro is a contributing writer for On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as Lead Copywriter at Cablevision. He has written for and the Eyes and Ears section of He blogs at Follow Chris on twitter @cgclaro.


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