The dozen-odd films Joe Swanberg has written and directed since his 2005 debut are talky, inexpensive and unlikely to screen at a theater near you. Drinking Buddies may be his commercial tipping point. Set in part at a craft brewery, the film more than lives up to its title: Alcohol factors into almost every scene, fueling a cycle of questionable decisions and subsequent regret as two couples (Olivia Wilde is dating Ron Livingston, while Anna Kendrick is semi-engaged to Jake Johnson) work their way through their respective relationships. If beer tastings and walks of shame factor into your weekends (or, indeed, weeknights), you’re likely to find these characters not only believable but familiar; the eponymous quartet behaves in a far more plausible manner than the tired archetypes populating the average romantic comedy. But the characters’ familiarity is a double-edged sword, as it makes their love-rectangle trajectory easy to detect from the film’s earliest scenes—tell me you don’t know exactly where things are headed the moment Kendrick and Livingston first meet at the brewery where Wilde and Johnson work. Though the question is usually when the expected will occur in Drinking Buddies, not if, anticipating what’s coming next doesn’t entirely diminish the impact once these recognizable pieces fall into place.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
- Critic's Score: B-
- Watch the trailer