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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
"Chuck & Buck" is a Twisted, Dark, and Highly Original Movie
It's very difficult to classify a movie like "Chuck & Buck". It has elements of a comedy, but is not laugh-out-loud funny and is quite disturbing throughout. It could be a suspense thriller about a stalker, but the story takes on a different angle and shows just how pathetic the said stalker is. Overall, it's a genre-bending film that, while bizarre and creepy in its story and character development, keeps you watching because it's strangely intriguing. The only problem lies in the last 20 minutes, where the actions of the main characters simply don't make any sense.
Before the ending, however, you're introduced to Buck (Mike White), a 27-year-old who still lives with his mother. When his mother dies of lung cancer, Buck invites childhood friend Charlie Sitter (Chris Weitz), whom he knew as "Chuck", to the funeral. It is only through Buck's interactions with Charlie where we learn how much Buck really hasn't grown up. Whereas Charlie has moved on with his life as an up-and-coming record executive who is engaged to beautiful Carlyn (Beth Colt), Buck is clearly in a state of arrested development.
Mike White, who also wrote the screenplay, is heartbreakingly convincing as Buck, and was very brave in playing such a vulnerable role. While we never find out exactly why Buck is so nostalgic for his pre-adolescent years, White's giddiness in seeing his childhood friend speaks volumes. He is very clingy in every manner from the way he hugs Chuck to the way he sucks his Blow Pops, which he does throughout the movie.
The film gets decidedly darker when Buck moves out of his mother's house and to L.A., where Chuck now lives. It's when Buck stands outside Charlie's place of work where we really feel for Charlie, but Buck's unhealthy obsession with Charlie does not stop there.
There is one jaw-dropping thing Buck says when he visits Charlie and Carlyn at their home. I won't give away what he says, but it happens when Carlyn goes to bed, and it involves certain childhood experimentation that Charlie put behind him, but Buck clearly has not. Charlie's reaction to Buck's statement is very understated given the circumstances, but would have motivated this critic to issue a restraining order immediately.
Buck is by far the most pathetic cinematic stalker since Rupert Pupkin, Robert De Niro's character in "The King of Comedy" (1983). Both characters are equally motivated by their own delusion and their search for love in all the wrong places. However, Buck is a lot creepier than Rupert Pupkin is, and probably would benefit from intense psychiatric counseling.
It was interesting how Buck began being active in the local theater across the street from Charlie's office. He befriends Beverly (Lupe Ontiveros), who is unaware of the true autobiographical nature of Buck's play, "Hank & Frank". A subplot like this would have felt out of place in a "Cape Fear"-like psychological thriller, but feels strangely welcome in an indie film like this one. It still contributes to Buck's unsettling delusion.
It is the resolution of this story where the film loses its ground, and ends on a very questionable note. The way Charlie ultimately decides to deal with Buck is very much out of left field, and was not so much a cop out as much as unrealistic given the circumstances. The last scene also feels half baked and inconclusive. Maybe it is the audience's wish for an alternative fate for Buck which leads to this feeling. Up until that point, however, the story was very intriguing and the characters incredibly well-fleshed out. Mike White's writing has always been quirky and weird, but it is always original and full of characters you feel for even when you don't agree with them. It just would have been better if such characters reached a better conclusion.
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