Let's be honest right off the bat: Drinking Buddies is the very definition of an independent movie, from hand-held cam tracking shots to the ass-kicking soundtrack to a set of low-to-no name actors clearly having their own personal little blast. It has NO budget, but most of all, No SCRIPT either. Those who DON'T like dialogue-based character pieces where very little happens while Michael Bay is elsehwere in the Milky Way, will certainly NOT like this one either. Unless you're in it for Olivia WIlde's hotness. Which cranks up to Eleven here as she plays a beer-guzzling, couch-slumping tumboy who happens to be really hot.
The story, so much as there's one, follows BFFs Luke & Kate who work together in -of all places- a brewery. If I may slightly segway here and say that if such a place really exists, where you you can freely "sample" the product strainght from the source, I'll apologize to everyone whom I bragged at for having what I thought was the world's greatest job (I mean I'm paid to watch movies all night long, com'on!). Back to our Brewy Bunch, the pair find each other at a somewhat similar stage of life: she's dating a music producer who wants something more, he's dating a teacher who can't wait to get married. The only sure thing in either's life is their friendship. Or is it?
Beer. It makes a buddy look good.
It's a premise we've seen so many times before -can men and women be best friends without blurring the line- but never get any kind of answer for other than "oh just get it ON already". The interest is thus not in what it has to say so much as HOW it is said. The movie exists for the sole purpose of allowing its players to improvise everything from top to bottom with only an outline of what needs to happen. It makes for a tense viewing because the actors are themselves understandably tense, which in the end becomes the most honest viewer-to-viewee experience you can get from a movie. It doesn't thrill and spill and dazzle, but it makes you honestly feel. Period. Like a reality show, but without the scenario.
Jake Johnson, whom I'll forever refer to as Jealous Jesus thanks to Harold and Kumar, offers a fun, heartfelt lead performance that makes it impossible to not want a friendship of our own with this scruffy dude, despite the Billy Carter cap and attitude. The sheer chemistry he shares onscreen with Wilde, probably due to pressure of having to ad lib everything as they go, makes them both irressitible to watch. The gravy, though, is with support players Ron Livingston and Ann Kendrick whose own awkward moment together makes for one of the more touching scenes of the cinematic year.
Plenty will see in this movie a 90-minute bore that just drags on without intent or purpose. And that's OK. But then again there are those who will see in the exercise an echo of the early 90's indie boom spearheaded by Reservoir Dogs among others, which probably explains why Tarantino pinned it in his 10 Best of '13 list. I'm just sayin. *cough*
One thing above all is clear: it'll make you wanna have a beer.
Final Word: 7.5/10