If you know me, you know I overly love the actors I've followed for years or from the "beginning" of their acting careers. Jake Johnson is one of my favorite comedic actors right now. I love his role in New Girl, his bit part in 21 Jump Street is fantastic and I adore Safety Not Guaranteed from last year. Anna Kendrick is another actress I've been into ever since I saw her in Up In The Air. 50/50, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and End of Watch are all pretty good. Plus I've always thought her performance was the only good one in Pitch Perfect. Finally Olivia Wilde has been my favorite starlet ever since she became 13 on House. Not to mention I've always liked Alpha Dogs, yes beyond the reason you'd ALL think, and I really enjoyed Butter from last year. Throw in Ron Livingston, of Office Space fame, and this is a great ensemble. This is a movie I'd been looking forward to all year, and I wasn't disappointed when I finally saw it.
Drinking Buddies follows the story of Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson). Both of them work at a brewery day in and day out. Luke makes the beer, while Kate sets up parties at the location where the beer they make is served. They have a palpable chemistry, but the problem is that they are both in relationships. Kate is dating Chris (Ron Livingston), while Luke is with Jill (Anna Kendrick). It seems that Kate and Chris' relationship is rocky, while Luke and Jill are starting to discuss marriage. One weekend, after the two couples had mingled at a brewery shindig, Chris invites them to a weekend getaway at his cabin by the beach. You can tell there's a connection between Chris and Jill, while Kate and Luke continue to be the flirty selves they are. One day on a hike, that Luke and Kate wanted no part in, Chris and Jill set up a picnic and end up kissing. This sets in motion events for the rest of the movie. The relationships are tested and a seemingly prefect friendship is becoming strained. These two couples go through highs and lows in this comedy about drinking, relationships finding the right person for you.
This is labeled as a comedy, but this has a ton of romantic tendencies. While not your conventional romantic comedy where Kate Hudson finds Mr. Right in the middle on New York, this, I think, is one none the less. I think that it's one of the strengths of this. You go into this expecting laugh out loud comedy, and while it's certainly there, you also get the character development. Combine that with the relate-ability of the characters and what they are going through, and you have a well written movie (from the character stand point) that I think a lot of people can get into, even if they aren't as big of fans of these guys as someone like me is. Another great aspect of this movie is the atmosphere and cinematography. No matter which combination of actors are in a particular scene, you feel like you're right there with them. I love authenticity, and when Luke and Kate are joking around, or Luke and Jill are having an intimate moment, it feels like you're in the room with them, or hanging out as apart of their group. A little creepy if you think about being in a room with a couple as they discuss marriage, but it's almost as if you got to look directly into the lives of these characters, and I love it. The performances by Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson and Olivie Wilde really do make this movie. The chemistry between Wilde and Johnson, flies of the screen at you. On the flip side, looking into the life of a committed couple, that Kendrick and Johnson were was pretty great. I got the feeling between the three, they wanted to really get into these characters and they brought them to life so well.
The reason they were able to play these characters so well is because of the writing. While the story is fine, bringing everyone to life is what makes this great. As I said plenty of times above, everyone is written well and it gave the actors the chance to bring them to life. Joe Swanberg, who also directed this, did a great job of not only writing this, but putting together a cast that would play them well. This is a comedy, it is funny and it's really carried by Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson. Not saying that Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick were wet-blankets, but Wilde and Johnson had a lot of scenes together. This gave them a rapport and the chance to shine and bounce everything off of each other fluidly. Olivia Wilde has pretty good comedic timing, thought she's not known for her funny. But combining her with Jake Johnson was a great movie. Not to mention at this stage in his career Jake Johnson is one of the funniest people, at least I think, you could fill a comedic role with. Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston were a change of pace, and while they had their moments, they left the comedy to the others. There is a few things that irked me about this and most of it had to do with the length of scenes. You can act at an Oscar-level, but if you involved in draggy scenes or even unnecessary ones, it's gonna show. This is where I feel, Ron Livingston was in this unfortunately. A lot of the time it just felt like he was there to "stir the pot". Then once he served his purpose he felt out of place anytime afterward. The music and score to me were nothing to write home about, but nothing was bad or anything of that nature.
I really loved this movie and it's a great surprise for me in a year that has largely been filled with mediocrity. I hate to judge or base a movie's "goodness" based of the actors in them. But with Drinking Buddies, it really is easy to say that the threesome of Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, really do shine. The comedy, the relationships, the emotion and the story is all here. Joe Swanberg did a great job all around with this movie, and I can't to revisit this in the future. I say this because I'm sure I'll enjoy it then, just as much as when I first watched it now.