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The masterminds behind Drinking Buddies knew what they were doing: Take a fairly traditional rom-com format and place it in a brewery. How 2013. (And double kudos for choosing a setting that’ll get boyfriends and husbands to agree to tag along.) If only the rest of the product had stood up to this solid foundation.
Drinking Buddies follows co-workers Luke (played by Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde), co-workers at a Chicago brewery, as they drink and flirt their way through the nine-to-five. The catch: They both have significant others. I’m not embarrassed to admit I enjoy the straightforward romantic comedy where you’re just along for the ride, no bumps in the road. And this cast (rounded out by Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, and Jason Sudeikis) is better than most—funny, grounded, and doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Though the plot is trite, the writers and actors manage to make it realistic instead of overdone. As you watch Luke and Kate play poker at a rustic cabin, you’re thinking, “Well I’d do that. And, yes, that’s exactly what I would say!”
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The biggest problem, though, is the gaping narrative holes. Luke and Jill (Kendrick) are supposed to have been together for six years, for example, but it’s not until midway through the film that you understand they’re in a serious relationship and not just a blossoming romance. Connections are made and broken without clear starts or ends. Perhaps that’s how real life is, but in a beginning-middle-end movie, I need to know how the characters (and I) went from scene two to scene 20. As I sat in the theater during last weekend’s Crested Butte Film Festival, I wanted more. As is, Drinking Buddies is more slice-of-life production (highlighting a couple weeks/months in a group of people’s lives) than full-fledged feature. Which is great—if that’s what you walk into the theater expecting.
Regardless, I laughed and I related. You will, too.
Overall grade: B
And while we’re at it—and you’re starting to crave some brews—here’s a list of some of our favorite beer-y movies (in no particular order) for your viewing pleasure:
Smokey and the Bandit
E.T. (OK, just the one scene)
Vegas Vacation (nice chugging, Rusty)
—Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures