Drinking Buddies is the most unique of romantic comedies. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are coworkers at a small Massachusetts brewery. They each are in relationships -- he with Anna Kendrick and she with Ron Livingston. Yet there is a palpable chemistry between the two that is unmistakable.
How Drinking Buddies sets itself apart from other rom-coms is that you are cheering for the two leads to get together, even though the viewer knows that that will involve one or two broken hearts. Whether or not they even get together is also at the heart of Drinking Buddies. Johnson’s Kate and Wilde’s Luke continually go out drinking after work (after having a few at work!) and by the end of the film you are asking whether they should be together or remain… Drinking Buddies.
As told to us in our Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde exclusive interview, filmmaker Joe Swanberg put his actors to work with only a framework of a script. Much of what is seen onscreen is improvised and perhaps that is why it feels so raw and real. Also, the performances from his actors are beyond stellar and one could argue that they so knew these characters that when the helmer asked them to just “go with it,” the audience got a story that was much more powerful and organic than could be expected from any other formulaic rom-com.
The supporting players get an A+ for their performances as well. Kendrick (recently seen in Pitch Perfect) is astounding and what she does with so little proves that this little actress is anything but small. In fact, she wields a hammer of talent that would rival that one carried by that Thor guy. And Livingston does something incredible. He plays with Wilde’s heart and all the while, the audience still wants the couple to work out their differences and stay together.
Of course, all of this is while we are cheering for Johnson and Wilde to finally respond to their electric chemistry and become a couple already!
What else sets Drinking Buddies apart from other rom-coms is that it is completely unpredictable, as one can gather even from the Drinking Buddies trailer. The ending could never be foreseen, and for that matter the ebb and flow of the story is nothing that would be predicted, expected or even thought of by its audience.
And who should steal the film with his performance unlike any we’ve ever seen from him? Why… it’s Jason Sudeikis! He’s only in Drinking Buddies for mere moments, but his presence is unforgettable.
Overall, our Drinking Buddies review can recommend the picture. Couples seeking a feel-good romance might want to look elsewhere. But, for people who can be honest with themselves about the unpredictability of life itself and the roads we take with people that come and go out of our world… it is a solid breath of fresh air.