Drinking Buddies (2013) – Film Review

Two men and two women, sitting on the floor, shoulder to shoulder.

Drinking Buddies

Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston

Directed by Joe Swanberg

IMDB Rating: 6.1

Review written by Rachel Geiger

Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers at a Brewery where they are close friends and “drinking buddies.” They are both perfect for each other but are also both in relationships with other people. Luke is with the innocent young teacher Jill, (Anna Kendrick) while Kate is dating Chris (Ron Livingston). The four end up taking a trip to Chris’s families cottage. While on a hike, Chris and Jill end up kissing. Chris ends up dumping Kate. And tension is still very much present between Kate and Luke.

Drinking Buddies is the kind of film where nothing terribly interesting happens. Even though it takes place in a brewery which is sort of unique, the storyline still isn’t that unique. It doesn’t have many main characters and even those characters don’t have much development throughout the movie. Although one thing you can definitely say about the plot is that it isn’t predictable and it isn’t your average romantic comedy either. It’s a film hard to define and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

The acting is pretty good but not exactly outstanding. Jake Johnson typically plays the same character in every role that he plays so it’d be nice if he went outside of his comfort zone a few times. Olivia Wilde definitely played a different character as “one of the guys.” Olivia Wilde is a very beautiful girl and it’s strange to see her playing a tomboy who isn’t terribly drop dead gorgeous. Anna Kendrick actually isn’t as charming as she normally is. I found her character Jill to be a little bit annoying. She just seems like a very naive girl which doesn’t come across as charming in this role due to some of her actions. It was something different for Kendrick but I’m not sure if it worked for her. Ron Livingston’s character was supposed to be socially awkward but it also came across in a more irritating way than he probably intended for it to be. At the end of the day, the film wants us to root for Kate and Luke, which is something the audience certainly ends up doing.

This is the first work of Joe Swanberg’s that I’ve ever watched. And to be honest, I haven’t even heard of his other films. From what I can tell though, he’s a mostly independent film director whose films appear at Sundance quite frequently. Just judging from his work on Drinking Buddies in particular, I’d say that he’s a director who focuses a lot around the scenery and general surroundings of the characters. He chose to make this an improvised film, the actors didn’t have a complete script to go off of, which can be very difficult. I think some of the intentions from the plot fell flat and part of that could’ve been that these four actors haven’t had all that much improv experience which made it hard for them to carry the movie.

As a whole, it’s a film that isn’t predictable but it also isn’t overly entertaining. Not a lot happens and it’s easy to lose interest while watching this. It’s not a believable movie overall. These four definitely have potential (Mostly Johnson, Kendrick, and Wilde since Livingston has been around for a while now) but it’s not enough to make this movie work.

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