Luke and Kate are coworkers at a brewery who spend their nights drinking and flirting heavily. One weekend away together with their significant others proves who really belongs together and who doesn't.
After a break up, Jenny moves in with writer Kelly, her filmmaker husband, and their child. Despite a rocky start, Jenny's influence helps Kelly realize that an evolution in her life, career and relationship is necessary for her happiness.
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. Written by
Director Joe Swanberg started shooting this film at the same time his friend David Lowery was shooting Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013). They decided that they, '...should have the same character in both movies just as a little hat tip. There's a cop named Gene Dentler in his movie and '[Jason] Sudeikis' plays Gene Dentler in ours. The name plate on Sudeikis' desk (in Drinking Buddies) that says Gene Dentler, we sent down to Shreveport and [Lowery] shot it in his movie, too." See more »
When Luke and Kate argue after Kate moves to her new apartment, the shadow from the camera operator can be seen several times when the shot cuts to Kate. See more »
That's the problem with heartbreak, to you it's like an atomic bomb and to the world it's just really cliche, because in the end we all have the same experience.
See more »
The title of the movie only appears in the ending credits and Jason Sudeikis's character 'Gene Dentler' is credited as 'Himself'. See more »
An observation of relationships through a beer glass
When the credits roll, Joe Swanberg's "Drinking Buddies" will at least leave you thirsty. Whether you'll be drinking to toast or drinking to forget is another matter.
Regardless in which camp you fall, "Drinking Buddies" is best enjoyed with your favorite craft beer in hand (or several). The story follows Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson), who both work for a new Chicago craft brewery, and their complicated relationship with their significant others and each other.
There isn't much to the story: if you're a beer nerd from the Midwest like I am, you might have more fun playing "spot the beer" than keeping an eye on what will happen next. The dramatic tension in this comedy comes from a weekend that Kate and her boyfriend, Chris (Ron Livingston),spend in Michigan with Luke and his girlfriend, Jill (Anna Kendrick). The sexual tension between the male and female counterparts is quite palpable and it drives (slowly) the entire rest of the film.
Fans of conventional Hollywood storytelling will likely cite "Drinking Buddies" as why independent films are awful, whereas fans of independent films will commend everything Swanberg does in this movie. It's a natural, true-to-life portrayal of relationships, where the characters live in a fishbowl and we observe them, counting the similarities to our own lives. There is practically no manufactured conflict, just people drinking, talking and trying to make sense of their lives.
Swanberg's script sets up situations in which a major conflict between the characters could break out at any second, but the film relies chiefly on its on-screen talent in order to work. Wilde and Johnson have excellent chemistry, to the point where it's almost painful that the story mostly deprives us of that romantic satisfaction. Wilde in particular hasn't given us a performance this raw since she made it big in Hollywood, so to see her give us the full range of the fun-loving but deeply insecure Kate is perhaps the finest takeaway "Drinking Buddies" has to offer. Johnson, on the other hand, while an ideal fit in his role, is mostly operating in familiar territory for anyone who follows him on Fox's comedy "New Girl."
Kendrick and Livingston, though technically important to the story, feel secondary to what may or may not happen between Kate and Luke. The depth of character is just not there for Livingston's Chris, or really for Kendrick's Jill either, though Kendrick (as always) makes the most with what she's given.
"Drinking Buddies" completely and honestly captures the indefinable nature of contemporary relationships, it just doesn't say anything new about it. You don't need to watch Swanberg's film to see a prime example of the oft-blurred line between Platonic and non-Platonic in a relationship, even if this movie does it particularly well. Similarly, the role that craft beer and beer culture plays in the film feels minimal if not irrelevant. The one idea that can be gleaned is that alcohol accentuates the complication of feelings by releasing impulses that otherwise can be repressed, but that's not exactly visible upon watching.
Expert talents and a filmmaker who truly understands relationship dynamics help elevate "Drinking Buddies" above the level of less astute indies that bank more on situational comedy and drama to bolster their themes. Yet the consequence is it hurts the entertainment value to a great degree. "Drinking Buddies" isn't boring, but it's underwhelming despite its strengths.
~Steven C Thanks for reading! Check out moviemusereviews.com for more
25 of 35 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?