Reel Shorts | Humpday

24 07 2009

“What’s Love Got To Do With It?
The summer of uncomfortable love continues at the movies continues with the story of two friends who take their “bromance” to unprecedented heights in the head-scratching comedy, “Humpday.”

Written, directed and co-starring Lynn Shelton, the film tells the story of a reasonably happy husband, Ben (Mark Duplass) who’s whole world is turned upside down when a his distant best friend, Andrew (Joshua Leonard) comes to visit.

Passive former party boy Ben has settled down and hopes to build a family with his wife, Anna (Alycia Delmore). Even she is unsettled by her husband’s strange opinionated visitor. Andrew’s free-spirited ways have an immediate effect on his long-lost friend. Slowly, Ben begins to get sucked into Andrew’s carefree vortex and finds his marriage, sanity and common sense beginning to slip away.

During an evening of drinking and fun, the two friends issue a challenge to each other that neither will back away from – the chance to make a porn “art” movie where two “straight” men will sleep with each other. An notorious underachiever, Andrew sees this act as a chance to finally bring something in his hollow life to completion. But the truly troubled one is Ben.

Feeling of if his freedom is slipping away and still not totally comfortable with his commitment, he resents Andrew’s insinuations that he is not his on man and restricted by his relationship and lovely wife. Given several opportunities to change his mind and back down, each instance further cements in Ben’s mind that he must go through with the movie, even with the specter of losing Anna hanging over his head. Soon he finds out that what is “good for the goose” may hurt him even worse.

The film has an uncomfortable almost “Bruno-like” feel with uncomfortable sexual situations. But unlike that film, which had some clever moments, Shelton’s story feels forced and incredibly stretches the love of a wife, the strong bonds of friendship and the utter lack of reason. Much like many male directors create unlikely situations for women on film, Shelton’s unlikely take on the relationship between two male friends is hard to imagine.

For two heterosexual men, who both have instances in the film where they are uncomfortable with intimacy from the opposite sex, to decide that the solution to their problem would be to sleep with each other is one of those situations that initially is amusing but quickly wears out it’s welcome.

Leonard, who is a dead ringer for “The Hangover’s” Zach Galifianakis, is solid as the film’s ultimate free-spirit who seems to be having the time of his life but truly is empty inside longing for the stability his friend shares. Even his performance can’t save this story from sinking with his Andrew acting like a virus that works it’s way through his friend’s psyche bringing out his insecurities and other negative qualities.

Much like the sinister character that comes to visit his friend and almost tears his friend’s family apart in 1990’s “To Sleep With Anger,” Andrew is the boil that needs to be lanced so that Ben can return to the semblance of a normal life. While the set-up is promising, “Humpday” slowly disintegrates until there’s nothing there resembling anything that makes sense. Unfortunately, this sorry tale that confuses awkwardness for humor is a disappointing letdown that clearly lost something in translation from script to screen.

Grade: D+



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