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Drinking Buddies (Blu-ray Review)

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.comLuke 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.  

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.com

Film 

When I first saw the trailer for Drinking Buddies I was actually excited, because I thought it would be a film about friends partaking of craft brew and getting into adventures, with a cast of people that I actually like. I partake of craft brew on a regular basis and I love the sense of fellowship and community while drinking a premium ale, or three. By the end of the trailer my buzz was gone and I figured that it would play out like your typical “best friends love each other, so why are they with other people” type of scenario. After watching Drinking Buddies I was glad to have been proven wrong.

Drinking Buddies is the tale of  Kate (Olivia Wilde) who works as an event coordinator for a local craft brewery. Luke (Jake Johnson) is her best friend and co-worker; he’s one of the brewers out in the back. They both have significant others – Jill (Anna Kendrick) is Luke’s girlfriend and Chris (Ron Livingston) is Kate’s boyfriend. An idea is hatched for all four of them to go to Chris’ family’s cabin for the weekend where everyone can hang out and get to know each other a bit better.

The group splits off somewhat and Jill ends up hanging out with Chris while Kate and Luke spend time together. It’s a bit of a slow build in that we know what will potentially happen, but are left clueless as to what the final outcome will be. Chris and Jill, seem to be the more compatible of the two while Kate and Luke seem to have been made for each other. Chris is a professional independent music producer who is also fifteen years older than Kate and Jill has her Master’s degree and teaches special needs children. Kate and Luke come off as misfits working at a brewery and getting drunk together on a regular basis taking life as it comes. On a fateful hike Chris and Jill end up kissing each other unbeknownst to their respective significant others, which kicks off a chain of events that may or may not end up being catastrophic to our couples in love. Will Jill tell Luke? Will Chris tell Kate? Those are the questions.

Drinking Buddies was filmed on the fly with no script and just a few bulleted plot points to help guide the actors and to set scenes up. The filming techniques used in the film make the viewer seem as though they’re a fly on the wall or that they’re the fifth invisible friend. The improvised situations and dialogue are great and I will say that Olivia Wilde delivers a great performance as does Jake Johnson. I’ve been a fan of Wilde since forever but Jake Johnson won me over in the fantastic Safety Not Guaranteed last year. 

Sure, on the surface some will probably categorize and put Drinking Buddies in the “why should I care about these people” bin due to them not necessarily saying what they’re thinking at certain crucial moments during the film. I’ll admit, I silently kept asking a couple of the characters to spit it the fuck out every once in a while, but it didn’t ruin the film for me. I felt that the character’s portrayals were very honest and somewhat relatable, hell, they’re downright likable people. Maybe not Chris, since he always seems like he’s the old guy out of place with the young whippersnappers.

I think that if you’re a fan of buddy comedies and/or non-traditional rom-comedies you’ll dig Drinking Buddies. If you like comedies AND craft beer then you will most definitely like Drinking Buddies. I made the mistake of running out of craft brew, which sucked, because Kate and Luke drink a lot during the film. I was craving craft brew! Oh, and the ending to Drinking Buddies reminded me of a scene in The Boat That Rocked aka Pirate Radio. It made me laugh and it was a great way to wrap things up. You know I’m not going to tell you, right? 😉

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.com

Video 

Drinking Buddies is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 (16X9) widescreen. The video presentation of Drinking Buddies is not a bad or great one. It’s a middle of the road type of presentation. Since the film was shot on the fly – it looks like it was naturally lit for the majority of the film. This gives the film non-processed look but then there are scenes where the contrast levels go on a bit of overkill. You can see these scenes during the daylight cabin shots. It’s not too distracting but cannot be avoided. Black levels are also not as deep as they should be. Other than that, the rest of film looks grand. Flesh tones look exquisite, with no signs of scrubbing or other anomalies. If only all other low budget comedies were shot like this the film world would be a better a place.

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.com

Audio 

Drinking Buddies is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Drinking Buddies is primarily a dialogue driven film and for the most part does its job nicely. There were a few instances where some of the dialogue traveled off but nothing to extreme. I just turned the volume up a bit more. The film does have a robust soundtrack that takes advantage of the 360 degree sound field. The surround sound channels do okay in handling the ambience and the LFE is rarely utilized unless there’s music or a song playing over certain scenes. It’s not the type of film that one would expect stuff flying out at you from every corner. It’s a very middle-of-the-road presentation.

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.com

Extras 

It’s been my recent experience with recent Magnolia titles to not expect much of substance in terms of special features. I think they may have broken that mold, because Drinking Buddies actually loaded with quality extras! We have a fun and informative audio commentary by the director and a couple of his producers, a 30-minute one-on-one interview with the director while he and the interviewer drink fine craft brews (I want that job!), and several interviews with the stars, and a brewery tour at Revolution Brewery. Deleted scenes with optional commentary and a trailer wrap it all up. I do wish that they would do away with the AXS featurette, because all that is is footage from the trailer mixed in with the interviews that you can watch separately. It’s totally redundant and unnecessary. Other than that, the Blu-ray extras are tip-top.

  • Deleted Scenes/Outtakes – with Optional Writer/Director Commentary
  • Interview with Olivia Wilde
  • Interview with Jake Johnson
  • Interview with Anna Kendrick
  • Interview with Ron Livingston
  • AXS TV: A Look at Drinking Buddies 
  • All Things Drinking with Writer/Director Joe Swanberg and “Drinking Made Easy” Host Zane Lamprey
  • Behind the Scenes at Revolutionary Brewery
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Joe Swanberg, Producer Andrea Roa and Producer Alicia Van Couvering
  • Trailer

 

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.com

Summary 

I had a lot of fun watching Drinking Buddies and look forward to director Joe Swanberg’s naturalistic work. He’s the new improvisational Robert Rodriguez of the indy comedy world. He wrote (if you can call it that), directed, and edited Drinking Buddies. Magnolia did a great job with the supplemental features and the video and audio are above average for a lower budget production. Oh, and keep an eye out for two unscheduled cameo appearances by Jason Sudeikis and director Ti West. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go craft beer shopping!

 

 

Order Drinking Buddies on Blu-ray!

Drinking Buddies - www.whysoblu.com

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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