With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.
Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Buck is a man-child who has lived his existence in a life of Romper Room, kindergarten collages, and lollipops. When his mother dies suddenly, Buck remembers his old childhood friend Chuck, with whom he feels a need to reconnect after having invited him to his mother's funeral. Buck treks out to Los Angeles where Chuck, an up-and-coming music record executive, is living his life. Buck ends up developing an obsession with Chuck and begins stalking him. Written by
Now, uh, would we be playing it like little kids like, uh like, like "La-la-la. I'm a little kid."
Well, you wouldn't be playing it like a little retarded kid, but yes, you would be acting youthful.
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The emotional world of Chuck & Buck's titular Buck is explicated early on as Buck (Mike White), a 27 year old mentally-challenged individual, is shown living in a kitschy suburban home that is decoratively informed by his taste for childlike pleasures. After his mother dies, Buck decides to re-establish ties with his boyhood best friend Chuck (Chris Weitz), a record executive now living in Los Angeles with his fiancée Carlyn (Beth Colt). Buck packs up his belongings and moves to the West Coast, setting in motion a troubling series of events so grotesquely humorous and touching that I'm pressed to call the film the scariest film of the year.
When Chuck and Buck were 11, they were best friends, and a decade and a half later they find themselves leading decidedly different lives. The phony-looking Tom Cruise-type that Chuck has become apparently leaves him incapable of realizing that the sixteen years that have separated the two men has caused Buck to live in a child-like world of arrested development. There is a rhyme to Buck's pursuit of Chuck and as Buck begins to stalk his friend it becomes clear that there was something entirely more complex to their friendship than initially meets that eyes.
One wickedly morbid utterance by to his friend Chuck reveals that the two men, as boys, shared a sexual relationship. Buck's mental state has little to do with his childhood experimentation so his pursuit of Chuck has little to do with homosexual desire than it has to do with wallowing in a childhood comfort that has long been lost. Chuck, who viewed the experiences with Buck as nothing but the curious experimentation between two young boys, is forced to face the ramifications of the actions he made long ago and the film takes an interesting twist that says plenty about the repressed and inconsiderate desires of yuppie America.
Lupe Ontiveros, thankless owner of stereotypically Hispanic characters in films like Selena and As Good As It Gets, almost single-handedly steals the show as the manager that decides to put up a play written by Buck called Hank and Frank. The psychodrama presented in Buck's play is a homoerotic (and misogynistic) tale of child-lust that is given a Wizard of Oz spin that makes the proceedings all the more troubling. Ontiveros juggles the right amount of dry wit and maternal instinct as she prods into Buck's dangerously unstable mind.
There is a sense of dread in Chuck & Buck that is near chilling. This isn't a gross exaggeration because there is a scene in the film between Buck and a young boy that is so twisted and misleading that one is forced to wonder if the scene is an outtake from Solandz' Happiness. From the film's oddly addictive theme song to colorful performances, Chuck & Buck not only harbors the creepiest catch phrase of the year (and the one least to be uttered) but the most sardonic and challenging take on the truncated sexual persona.
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