The rules for how we watch movies, much like the rules for how we date (or don't date), have changed significantly. So it's fitting that Drinking Buddies, a smart, sexy indie comedy about the sometimes confusing dynamics of male-female friendships that debuted earlier this year at SXSW, is now currently available to watch On Demand and on iTunes before it hits theaters on August 23.
So why should you watch director Joe Swanberg's ensemble flick (it stars Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston) at home instead of wait for its big screen release? And, no, not just because it's significantly cheaper than a night at the movies (the rental is just $9.99). Here are five reasons why you should watch Drinking Buddies:
It Accurately Portrays Relationships, Friendships, and Those Blurred Lines in Between
"Can men and women just be friends?" It's an age-old question that has continually evolving answers. It's also one that Drinking Buddies leaves you, the viewer, to decide. In the meantime, the movie is one of the rare few that accurately shows what relationships are like (you don't always have eyes for each other, honesty is the best policy, among others), what male/female friendships are like (often flirtatious, especially if booze is involved), and how they often overlap. Drinking Buddies revolves around Kate (Wilde) and her co-worker/best bud Luke (Johnson), and their respective significant others Chris and Jill (played by Livingston and Kendrick). Luke and Kate have an unbreakable bond that often blurs the line of friendship and wanting more, as they things tend to do.
It Opens a Dialogue
If you watch this movie with your own best guy/gal friend it will either open a dialogue ... or make things even more awkward. Either way, the movie and its characters (many of whom are unlikeable at times ... you know, like how people are in everyday life) raises the "Can men and women just be friends?" question, among others, especially the questions we're forced to ask ourselves about the people in our lives. It's a smart, complex movie about the ties that bind us. Oh, and alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Watch responsibly.
The Tremendously Talented Cast and Their Improv Skills
You wonder why the dynamics of this fantastic foursome works so well here and why the chemistry all feels so damn natural? That's because the movie is a completely improvised effort on the part of all the stars. While Swanberg gave them an outline to work with in their scenes, the actors created their own dialogue. This allowed the cast to bounce off each other and get loose and create boundaries (or lack thereof) with their characters. Still, even without a traditional script, the movie is a success and that's hugely in part to its leads.
In most romantic comedies (though it's unfair to call this a rom-com, really) when men and women are friends, they hate each other at first and then eventually get to like each other. In Drinking Buddies, Luke and Kate are long-established pals. Additionally, in most romantic comedies, you not only root for these friends to stop making sexy eyes at each other and just get together already (My Best Friend's Wedding), but you actively root against the person in their way, who is typically someone conveniently terrible (Wedding Crashers). Here, you hope that Luke actually maintains his boundaries because Jill is such a supremely cool chick and Kate is kind of selfish. Yes, you want them to kiss (there are some seriously intense moments) but you actually hold out the hope that they prove men and women can be friends without sex getting in the way.
Jake Johnson's Bitchin' Beard
Image: Magnolia Pictures