Drinking Buddies (Blu-ray)

December 6, 2013 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Kate (Olivia Wilde) is one of the guys. She dresses casually, drinks, curses and is easy to get along with. She’s in a relation with Chris (Ron Livingston). Jill (Anna Kendrick) is in a relationship with Luke (Jake Johnson). Kate works with Luke at a brewery and the two of them (along with other coworkers) hang out after work and shoot the breeze. Chris sets up a weekend trip with Kate, Jill and Luke. It’s on this trip where matter become complicated. Chris and Jill take a hike together and they kiss. Kate grows closer to Luke. The film then follows each character as their relationships grow closer and then apart. Jill constantly brings up the topic of marriage to Luke to see what he has decided on the topic. If it sounds like I have only skimmed the surface of the plot, that’s only because there isn’t much of a plot here. A lot of the film is more about the relations between these 4 characters before anything else. I’ve always been a big fan of Olivia Wilde and she is by far the most interesting character here. The rest of the cast does fine work, but I just found Kate to be the most interesting. Ron Livingston does a good job here, but his character sort of vanishes in the latter half of the film. Kendrick and Johnson also deliver strong performances.

I had high hopes for Drinking Buddies and while I didn’t hate it, I can’t say it did much for me. The cast is solid, but I found myself strangely uninterested throughout most of it. It takes such a lackadaisical approach to everything that it’s hard to garner much interest in any of it. I was doing some research and I learned that the film was entirely improvised. This would explain the problems I had with it. Sometimes it’s hard to love a film when it’s so in love with itself. I wish the film was more ambitious and tried for something more. Too often it simply meanders without much focus or drive. The central setup is also very contrived. The conflict that these characters find themselves involved in feels very forced. When Chris and Jill go on a hike together, I felt the director was reaching too hard to put these characters in an isolated setting. Some of the earlier moments reminded me of “Extract”, the underrated Mike Judge comedy from a few years ago. That film is very slight, but at least it offered a more pleasant experience than this. The plots are far apart, but both films feature factory employees and offer a glimpse into their simple lives. I mention “Extract” because had Mike Judge handled a film like this, it might’ve been more successful. Ultimately, I’d say skip this film. The cast is likeable enough to keep it from being a total loss, but there’s just not enough here for me to recommend it.

Video: How’s it look?

Presented in a 2.40:1 AVD HD encode, the film has a very unique look and feel to it. The cinematographer, Ben Richardson, was also responsible for his work on the award winning Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Having said that, the film has a natural, yet very sharp and crisp look to it. This is a trend I’m seeing more and more of lately and it’s a bit hard to describe. By no means does the movie look fake or unnatural, but it’s so sharp that we actually feel like we’re literally right there. Naturally detail is amazing, flesh tones seem to be a tad on the washed out side, but not by much.  Colors pop and it’s a testament to how good modern day films can look – even smaller budget ones.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Sporting a DTS HD Master Audio mix, Drinking Buddies isn’t exactly designed to challenge your system, rather it’s a very realistic and natural-sounding mix that’s fitting of the film and its subject matter. Vocals are crisp and clear, lack any distortion and are well-centered and strong. The surrounds don’t come into play all that often, but they are there and offer some assistance in a few key scenes. There’s not a whole lot else to say about this track, it delivers but it doesn’t overdo it, either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The disc contains just about the right amount of supplements to warrant a purchase and fans will enjoy the audio commentary. Here’s a breakdown of the supplements:

  • Audio Commentary – I can remember in the movie Ready to Rumble, the actors (Scott Caan and David Arquette) started their commentary by opening a few “adult beverages.” Writer/Director Joe Swanberg, Producers Andrea Roa and Alicia Van Couvering follow suit here and give a very in-depth and articulate commentary. Fans of the movie will enjoy this highly and it’s a must listen.
  • Interviews – Each of the four main stars are interviews about their respective parts in the film, their motivations for it, etc.
  • AXS TV: A Look at Drinking Buddies – Essentially a promo for the film with the interviews used as well.
  • All Things Drinking with Director Joe Swanberg and “Drinking Made Easy” Host Zane Lamprey – Zane Lamprey, host of one of my favorite shows Three Sheets, now hosts a drinking show called Drinking Made Easy in which he travels around the country looking at the various ways there are to destroy one’s liver.  Lamprey interviews Swanberg here and the result is a very interesting little feature.
  • Behind the Scenes at Revolution Brewery – It’s basically a tour of the brewery.
  •  Deleted Scenes – We’re treated to about 7 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for the film.
  • BD-Live – Though it’s listed, nothing really came up for me here.

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